Fab, Fearless Females: Rita Wilson Reinvented After 50

By: Susan Berman Hammer

“Try something new – it's never too late! You've got to put yourself out there.” - Rita Wilson

“50 Rocks! It's so much fun – you're completely liberated” – Rita Wilson

If we ask, who is Rita Wilson and for what is she most known? Your initial response would probably be - wife of celebrity actor Tom Hanks. Yes, you're correct, but there's so much more to Wilson's multi-dimensional life, creative talents and career. Like Honey Good and most of us, Rita Wilson continues to perform many roles -- both onscreen and off--particularly after age 50.

While Wilson may not have garnered quite as much media attention as her husband Tom Hanks, she most definitely fits our definition of a fabulous female fearlessly pursuing her dreams after age 50. And at age 58 (she turns 59 on October 26), she has already realized many of those dreams.

Her Twitter profile @Rita Wilson quotes Hamlet: “To thine own self be true.” In an interview, she later added: “It is vital to make sure you are listening to yourself and hearing what it is your body is telling you." 

In  one Huffington Post interview, Wilson recalled how her dear friend Nora Ephron toasted her on her 50th: "I am here to tell you good things can happen after turning 50." And Wilson later commented, "the period after 50 is like a different kind of adolescence (a whole new journey to rediscover yourself)."

She also remembered Oprah's mantra: “If you know what you want, you can get it….” Wilson added: “I remember thinking how can I possibly want anything when I already feel so blessed and so grateful…. I realized it was a question that went deeper than any superficial desire. It was about purpose, and listening to your heart without distraction.” 

Discussing her fearless reinvention, Rita has said that when you say yes (to a dream), the doing is more important than the fear of failure. “The passion to do it is more important to me than what other people say about it,” she added.

In addition to her role as wife to Hanks in an unusually long marriage, by Hollywood standards (since 1988), Wilson is the mother of two grown sons, stepmother to two children from Hanks' previous marriage, an actress (TV, film and theater) and a producer. (We all remember her films, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, now the top money-making independent film of all time, and Sleepless in Seattle, among others.)

Equally important to her are her more recent acting and singer/songwriter roles as: 

  • An outspoken and aggressive attorney, a recurring role in the CBS TV series, The Good Wife  –  She had asked her agent to seek new roles that were far different from her previous gigs as loving, nurturing wives or mothers. (Her first TV role was a teenager in a 1972 episode of The Brady Bunch.) 

  • A singer and songwriter - Wilson co-wrote original songs in her new music video-style album, Girls Night In, released March 31, 2015. It's about the importance of girlfriends in every woman's life. “We can't live without them,” Wilson added. (Her fun and funny video album includes a final scene when Hanks walks in, eyes Wilson's partying girlfriends, turns around and hurriedly walks out again.) Watch it here....

  • A performer of her own songs during a two-week run in the Cafe Carlyle in New York and at concerts in Disney Concert Hall, the Bluebird in Nashville and the Troubadour in Los Angeles. 

  • The featured vocalist in her album entitled, AM/FM, featuring her favorite pop songs from the 60's and 70's.  She performed one of the songs, Come See About Me (originally sung by the Supremes), on Jimmie Kimmel Live. Watch this video where she talks about the making of AM/FM....

  • An editor-at-large for HuffPost/50 who launched the Huff Post 50 Over 50 Initiative – Wilson has reviewed entries in the Post's 2015 Best Grandparents contest as well as fictional short story entries by writers over 50.

  • A writer for Harpers Bazaar magazine – She interviewed Tom Ford in an article,”If You Knew Tom Ford.” Read it here....

  • An actress on Broadway - Her latest role was opposite Larry David in the Broadway comedy, Fish in the Dark, but Wilson took a medical leave after she received her breast cancer diagnosis. Her Broadway debut happened years earlier when she replaced Roxie Hart in Chicago.

  • A role in the parody PSA from the make it fair project  which advocates for equal pay in the entertainment industry. Watch it here....

AHuffPost/50 interviewer asked Wilson: What's most surprising about life after 50? She replied: 

“There is so much good stuff that happens after fifty. You have a sense of who you are and what you want. I have enjoyed it so much. Along with all that, I have found that being an empty nester also has its challenges. Seeing friends has to be scheduled since everyone is scattered with their own interests and finding time together takes effort. If you have aging parents, you must take care of them which is something many of us are dealing with. Still, I find that there's a gratitude for life that seems to really kick in.”

Of course, most of us have read about Wilson's breast cancer diagnosis, her double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery this past spring. Cancer may have slowed her down for awhile, but she continues to demonstrate fearlessness. In an interview with People magazine, she talked about her disease, the love and support of Hanks and her family and friends and urged women to get second and third opinions after a cancer diagnosis.

A round of applause goes to Rita Wilson 2.0 -- a fearless dreamer, exceptional creative artist and now, a survivor!!!

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Susan Berman Hammer brings more than 35 years of professional communications, management and parenting experience as well as journalism training to The Honey Good team of writers. Susan is also PR counsel and a business strategist to HoneyGood.com. Susan previously served as the Senior VP-Account Supervisor of a Chicago PR agency and later headed her own agency. She earned graduate and undergraduate degrees from Northwestern University. Follow Susan on Twitter: @SueBermanHammer