Celebs Share the Most Important Life Lessons They've Learned From Their Moms

Mother’s Day is fast approaching, but let’s be honest: moms deserve to be celebrated every day for their selflessness, strength, and unyielding ability to lead by example in even the most trying of times. Many of us are familiar with these admirable attributes displayed by our own mothers — including some of our favorite celebrities who’ve publicly sung the praises of their moms.

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For some, a mom transforms into a best friend once you’re no longer a child. Kate Hudson is familiar with this relationship evolution with her mother, iconic actress Goldie Hawn. The Almost Famous star told People in 2016, “She’s my confidante and we talk about our life and her life, and we support each other now that I’m an adult.”

For others, a mom teaches valuable lessons that go against the grain of societal narratives. Take Jaden Smith, for example. During VH1’s 2016 “Dear Mama” event, he recognized his mom — another iconic actress, Jada Pinkett Smith — for teaching him “that men can’t be all just brute force and just male energy; they have to be sensitive and understanding.”

And for a great many, a mom is an example of relentless determination, overcoming challenge after challenge with admirable resolve. Rita Ora praised her mother at VH1’s “Dear Mama” gathering as well, commending her for redoing her education after moving to a foreign country in order to continue working a profession she was already licensed to do in her home country — all while taking on a second job, caring for her family, and battling breast cancer. Talk about an absolute warrior.

Moms are awe-inspiring, selfless, wise, loving, resilient people who are, frankly, real-life superheroes. Here’s what some of the most famous people in the world have shared about their incredible mothers and the lessons they’ve taught.

  • Kerry Washington

    Image Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue.

    In conversation with Essence in 2020, Kerry Washington recalled witnessing how her mom prioritized self-care while she was growing up and how that inspired her to model the same self-empowerment for her own daughter.

    “I hope I do what my mom did; she didn’t instruct, she lived by example,” the Scandal star explained. “Actions are more powerful than what you say. And, [watching my mom] gave me room to discover my own path.”

    The Little Fires Everywhere actress added, “I want my daughter to find her own path, but what’s more important is her relationship with self. Knowing that she feels good and deserves to take the time and invest in herself and not worry about other think about her is important to me.”

  • Julia Roberts

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    During a conversation with InStyle magazine, Julia Roberts recalled feeling awestruck by her mom’s ability to make single parenthood seem effortless. The actress shared, “I remember asking her, when I had three kids under 3 years old and just felt like I was running in a thousand directions at once, ‘How on earth did you raise all of us? You worked full-time, and you did all these things.’”

    The Pretty Woman icon continued, “She could have said, ‘Well, you know, you just do your best.’ But she said, ‘Darling, it’s called daycare. I dropped you and your sisters off at 7:30 in the morning, and I would pick you up at 4 in the afternoon.’ But it didn’t feel like that to me.”

    Roberts touchingly finished, “I didn’t feel like I was a dropped-off person who didn’t see her mom all day. I just felt completely part of her life, and she was part of mine. And that’s the magic trick: to make people feel that they’re with you when they’re not.”

  • Jaden Smith

    Image Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images.

    During VH1’s inaugural “Dear Mama” event in 2016, Jaden Smith recognized his mom, Jada Pinkett Smith, for her guidance in helping him become a well-rounded man.

    Speaking to her in the crowd, the rapper said, “You taught me that men can’t be all just brute force and just male energy; they have to be sensitive and understanding.” He shared with the room of distinguished guests, “That’s the biggest lesson she taught me: how to be myself [and] how to be in touch with every part.”

  • Beyoncé

    Image Credit: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy.

    Beyoncé told Garage magazine that her “biggest hero” has always been her mom. “She has taught me about caring for others, working hard, and working smart,” the distinguished music artist said of her mother, adding, “Everything I know about being a mother comes from the examples she has shown.”

  • Jennifer Garner

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    During a 2017 interview with Southern Living, Jennifer Garner opened up about several life lessons learned from her mother. The beloved 13 Going On 30 actress first touched on how much she valued that her mom taught her “to not place beauty high on the list of priorities,” recalling, “It was a shock when I got to college to hear people say I was pretty.”

    Garner also spoke about wanting her kids to practice the humility she learned from her mom. She explained, “It’s really important for my kids to see that everyone doesn’t have the lives they see in Los Angeles. That doesn’t reflect the rest of the world.”

    “I want them to grow up with the Southern values I had — to look at people when they say hello and to stop and smell the roses. If I could do half as good a job as my mom did, I’d be pretty happy,” The Last Thing He Told Me star sweetly said.

  • Reese Witherspoon

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    During an interview for her 2017 cover with Southern Living, Reese Witherspoon credited her mother for teaching her the value of hard work and the importance of truly loving what she does for a living. The Legally Blonde legend shared, “Just loving what you do makes a job not feel like a job. She taught me to have a passion for my interests and to work into those interests.”

  • Tracee Ellis Ross

    Image Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tiffany & Co.

    Tracee Ellis Ross told CNN’s Van Jones that “the most incredible stuff” she learned from her mother, music icon Diana Ross, “was through the experience of watching her.” 

    The black-ish actress elaborated, “There’s a way that my mom navigates her life and her own beingness and experience that is, as a reflection, empowering, and gives me the courage to make my own choices and live my own life as I would.”

  • Chris Hemsworth

    Image Credit: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images for AFI.

    Chris Hemsworth told the New York Daily News that the best advice he received from his mom is, “If you’re not enjoying it, do something else.”

    The Thor actor explained, “That was what she said to me when I came across to the States and I was really nervous about coming over. [I thought,] ‘What if I don’t get work?’ She goes, ‘Just have fun. You love acting, right? Good, go and act. Go and have fun and if it doesn’t work out, you can come back home.’”

  • Kate Hudson

    Image Credit: Mike Coppola/Getty Images.

    Kate Hudson is famously close with her mom, celebrated actress Goldie Hawn. The How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days star told People in 2016, “What makes mom the best is that she never put any expectations too high on the kids. She just wanted us to be doing the things that made us happy, as long as we were working hard, but we never had to live up to something,” Hudson explained.

    As far as the best advice the Knives Out: Glass Onion actress has received from her mama, Hudson shared, “It’s not really advice so much as she’s my confidante and we talk about our life and her life, and we support each other now that I’m an adult. Where she’s really wonderful is leading an authentic life and a truthful life,” she said of Hawn.

  • Tia Mowry-Hardrict

    Image Credit: Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images.

    What’s the best advice Sister, Sister alum Tia Mowry-Hardrict received from her mom? “Never feel bad about who you are.” The actress told the New York Daily News, “She would always say, ‘If they don’t like you, then it’s their loss.’”

  • Melissa McCarthy

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    In 2016, Melissa McCarthy became the first woman to win the Comedic Genius Award at the MTV Movie Awards. During her acceptance speech, the Gilmore Girls icon thanked her mom, who “taught me not to fear being the butt of the joke, taught me not to worry about being likable or perfect, and to lovingly go for the kill.”

  • Uzo Aduba

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    Uzo Aduba shared an anecdote with the New York Daily News about an important lesson she learned from her mom as she set out to become an actress.

    The Orange Is the New Black star recalled, “When I first moved to New York, [my mother] dropped me off at the train, and she turned off the car, and she said, ‘Uzo. Just work hard. I don’t care what you do, as long as you work hard. I never heard of nothing come from hard work. I don’t know what will come, but something will come.’”

  • Rita Ora

    Image Credit: Mike Coppola/Getty Images.

    At VH1’s 2016 “Dear Mama” event, Rita Ora paid tribute to her mother for her refusal to give up in the face of adversity. The Fifty Shades of Grey actress explained that, upon moving from Kosovo to London, her mom had to go back to school to get recertified for a profession she was already licensed to do.

    “Mom, you never wavered; you just rolled up your selves went to school, took an extra job to help dad and support our family — all while winning your battle against breast cancer,” Ora said directly to her mother. She emotionally added, “Without a doubt you are the strongest woman I know. I learned about my powers growing up on your guidance.”

  • Michael Douglas

    Speaking of important lessons he learned from his mom, Michael Douglas told the New York Daily News, “She was very optimistic and chose not [to] share her dirty laundry or dwell in the negative.” The Ant-Man actor added, “She’d take long walks in freezing air. I think her advice was, ‘The colder it is, the longer the walk, the better you’ll feel.’”

  • Donnie Wahlberg

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    Donnie Wahlberg’s mom Alma may have passed in 2021, but the New Kids on the Block alum still holds her advice close to his heart.
    “Somehow I think she instilled in me, because of our connection, that there was something great out there if I just believe and stay the course, and I did,” he told TODAY.com. “Her advice would be the advice that I would give to young Donnie. I think Donnie took that advice and stayed the course, no matter what challenges came his way. I think her advice is the advice that I would give right back to me again — because it worked.”

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