Jessica Chastain Reveals She Dropped Out of High School & Her Comments on Education Are Powerful
Time and time again, Jessica Chastain has proven that she's one of the most talented, intelligent actors of our generation — so, at first glance, this bombshell she just dropped in an interview with EW is pretty shocking. While promoting her upcoming film A Most Violent Year , Jessica Chastain revealed that she dropped out of high school, because she was truant so often during her teen years that she wasn't actually able to graduate.
"Nobody knows this about me...I dropped out of high school. I was not a hard worker. I was a terrible student," Chastain explained. "Eventually I got my adult diploma, but I did not graduate. And it wasn’t that I just dropped out and never went back—at the end of the year I had too many absences to graduate."
While it may be insane news to those of us who have followed Chastain's career, it's actually what Chastain said next that's even more shocking: Apparently, being truant may have made her become more interested in acting.
"I would cut school and sit in my car, reading Shakespeare," she said, adding that she then went on to star in productions of Shakespeare plays before auditioning for — and being accepted to — The Juilliard School at the age of 22. "I thought that I wasn’t an intelligent person because I did so poorly...there are kids out there that aren’t doing well in school — and I hope they never think it means they’re stupid," she continued. "It’s all about finding where your interest lies and finding what you’re good at."
Though cutting class to read Shakespeare instead isn't always what truant teens are doing during the time they should be in school, some do, and Chastain's comments indicate something pretty important and worth a discussion: The results of a standardized schooling systems.
Someone who doesn't have an interest in learning and creativity won't sit in their car and read Shakespeare plays during their spare time — actually, even some people who do have an interest in learning and creativity don't do that. The fact that Chastain chose to spend her time that way — and, as she admitted, often felt unintelligent because her schoolwork wasn't stellar — just goes to show that grades aren't always a barometer for the amount of success a person is going to have in live, or a measure of how intelligent they are.
The bottom line is, everyone is different: Not every child has the same interests in life, and not every child learns the same way. Chastain was lucky enough to discover her passion for acting and literature fairly early in life, but for so many other kids being pushed through a school system that values test scores over a passion for learning and growth, this isn't always the case. It's a sad reality that has needed to be addressed in the US for a good while — and making any child to feel that they're less intelligent because they're unable to learn the same way that federal standards say they should doesn't help either.