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Meryl Streep: 'A Little Bit of Tiger Mom Is a Good Thing'

Photograph by PHOTO CREDIT: Nick Wall

Meryl Streep is quite possibly the most acclaimed actress of our time. While she was becoming an on-screen success, the working mom and 19-time Academy Award nominee would go home between films to raise her four children with her husband, sculptor Don Gummer. Her children (Mamie, Grace, Louisa and Henry) are all grown now, with careers in acting, modeling and music.

"Florence Foster Jenkins," which opens August 12, is based on the true story of a '40s-era New York heiress (Streep), who dreams of becoming a singer. The problem? She can't sing to save her life. Together with her husband, St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), and her pianist, Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg), they find a way to perform at Carnegie Hall for a story that went down in history.

We recently got a chance to sit down with Streep to talk about "Florence Foster Jenkins" and learned that she is a fierce supporter of Hillary Clinton and wishes she had kept her son in piano lessons.

MORE: Meryl Streep's Most Important Role

Florence is an inspirational character, but the way she achieves her goals is not how we are often taught to get them. As a mother, do you think it's OK to keep encouraging your kids when they are not good at something?

Here's where it gets thorny. I had a child who, at 3, would go to the piano, reach up and play. I said we have to get him music lessons. He loves it! He would go in and do this all the time. So, we got a teacher, and it wasn't a good teacher. From ages 8 to 10, we had two different teachers, and neither one of them were good. But I knew he had this desire. He wanted to quit, and this is how it shakes down in my house: There’s the bad cop, and then there’s Dad. "You're making him live this thing that is your thing and your dream," my husband said. And I said, "No, this is him, I know it's him." And he said, "No, let him quit." So I let him quit. Now, cut to age 35, and he is a musician. Self-taught and late in life, he came to it. I keep thinking if he had stayed with it ... You know, a little bit of "tiger mom" is a good thing. Sometimes you have to make them do things they don't want to do; it's good for them.

Your speech at the Democratic National Convention was such a powerful moment. Obviously, there were a lot of moving moments there, but your speech seemed almost primal. Can you describe how you were feelilng in that moment?

I thought about Hillary Clinton and how much s--t she's taken over 30 years—some of it probably deserved—but most of it, her entire life of activism, from the time she volunteered at Yale's Child Study Center to figure out how to identify rape in kids ... By then, Bill (Clinton) was already in love with her and wanted her to go to Arkansas. She has just never ever stopped. It's like a hidden history.

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