Suzy Amis Cameron: 'Titanic' Changed My Life

The mom of a large family and wife to director James Cameron discusses motherhood, movies and 'me' time

Speaking of a different trajectory, what was your inspiration for founding Muse School?

Jim and I have five children total (who range in age from 22 to 5). We watched our two older children—he brought a daughter to the marriage, and I brought a son to the marriage—go through different schooling systems, and just watched layers and layers of things, watching their spirit be squashed, watching them be put into a box, expectations that they had to behave like everyone else. Jim and I are really big advocates for the environment, and I wanted to create a school that was fully sustainable, that celebrated children for who they are as individuals and allows them to learn in their own way at their own pace and to really explore what their interests and passions are.

Seven years later, we have 97 students, and we have our own campus, which is in Malibu Canyon now. It’s fully sustainable. We have all-organic snacks and lunches and gardens. We have a global program, so we connect with schools in Thailand, New Zealand, India, and we’re working on a school in Tanzania, France and England right now with ideas to expand and open nine more Muses around the world.

How do you and your husband incorporate travel when it comes to the kids?

Jim is getting ready to go back into Avatar 2, 3 and he’s talked a little bit about No. 4. He will shoot those back-to-back between here and New Zealand. In the first Avatar, which took close to six years, mainly because they were creating the technology—they were writing the book on how to do it—we definitely stayed intact as a family and traveled when we could and were able to take school work and that sort of thing. We learned a lot from that experience. So going into it this time and having the children be a little bit older, we will be taking a teacher with us that will keep the children connected to the school.

Do you have any "mom" advice that has come in handy over the years?

I think the biggest thing as a parent is to listen and spend time with your children. The piece of advice that someone gave me when we were going through the teenage years is never let them see you lose your cool. And you can very easily get into a back-and-forth, pushing buttons kind of situation. Because children have feelings and expressions and opinions and ideas, and they want to share them. What’s important is that they learn how to share them in a respectful way. When they get upset, we basically hold our cool and say, “Come find me when you’re ready to talk calmly about it.”

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