Helen Mirren Once 'Desperately Wanted to Be Twiggy,' but Has Come to Embrace Her Individuality Instead (Exclusive)

L'Oréal Paris ambassador Helen Mirren says that embracing one's own individuality is the key to beauty

<p>Andreas Rentz/Getty</p> Helen Mirren at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival

Andreas Rentz/Getty

Helen Mirren at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival

It's been two years since Helen Mirren covered PEOPLE's Beautiful Issue, and the Oscar winner is still preaching the power of swagger.

The L’Oréal Paris ambassador spoke to PEOPLE this week from the Cannes Film Festival — where she's promoting The Most Precious of Cargoes — about her own journey to self-acceptance.

Mirren, 78, recognizes that there are “beautiful people in the world,” like Naomi Campbell and David Beckham, but she does not fall into that category, “which is fine by me,” she says. “I look okay, but I'm not that beautiful. But we are all individuals and we all have our own individuality. And I think ultimately it's just embracing that and allowing yourself to be what you are.”

Despite this, Mirren notes that young women are “terribly vulnerable” to wanting to be something else. For the actress, it was aspiring to be England's "It" girl of the '60s.

“I desperately wanted to be Twiggy," she shares, "and I absolutely was not Twiggy in any sense."

<p>Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu/Getty</p> Helen Mirren, Andie MacDowell and Iris Berben at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival

Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu/Getty

Helen Mirren, Andie MacDowell and Iris Berben at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival

However, the 1923 actress continues, “The real trick is to learn to accept yourself and love yourself, accept your absolute individuality and be proud of it.”

Related: Hot Dame! Helen Mirren's Most Iconic Fashion and Beauty Moments

During her time in Cannes, Mirren also attended the Lights on Women Award ceremony on May 24, which was launched by L’Oréal Paris in 2021 and celebrates future female filmmakers.

The actress explains that filmmaking is not without cost, and “you have to have courage, enormous courage, to spend other people's money to make your vision.” Through the awards, L’Oréal Paris is giving women a platform for their storytelling, she explains.

Helen Mirren at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival
Helen Mirren at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival

“Bringing more women into film means we see different stories told in different ways," Mirren continues. "For the past 50 years, we've been told stories from the male perspective, and it's way past its due date for us to start to see stories told from a female point of view."

Related: Helen Mirren Dazzles at Cannes in Sparkling Dress, Edgy Eyeliner and Super-Long Hair Extensions

Walking the red carpet at Cannes can be "intense," Mirren admits, though "I get the frisson of excitement the minute I arrive. It's this extraordinary mixture of a really serious, proper art film festival where film is taken very seriously. And on top of that is this amazing sort of carapace of incredible glamour."

"I would say the only thing that's similar is the Oscars," she adds. "But nothing else really competes."

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