Audrey Hepburn is an icon who achieved immortality by playing the role of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Even today she is often referred to because of the major mark she made on pop culture.
The actress passed away decades ago, but her resemblance is still found in her granddaughter Emma Ferrer.
Emma Ferrer was born in May 1994. A little over a year after her paternal grandmother and legend Audrey Hepburn died. So essentially Ferrer never met her grandmother but throughout her life in the last 28 years, she has gathered a lot of information about her.
Either from watching films her grandmother was in or information given to her by members of her family; she has gathered an idea of what her late grandmother was like as a person and performer.
“Slowly, I started going to friends’ houses and seeing that she was in a poster in their kitchen, or I would see her on a T-shirt or handbag. (It was like), ‘I guess this is a bigger deal than I thought it was,’” Ferrer said in an interview.
Now that she is older, she knows just what a massive impact her grandmother had on the world. The Belgian-born actress won an Oscar in her early 20s and was one of the main reasons a black turtle neck became popular. She also got the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 for her work as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF; a role she worked in since 1989.
“She revolutionized what we take for granted today … which is to have a celebrity of her magnitude associated with a cause like she was,” Ferrer said of her grandmother. “But at the time — I don’t know if we can appreciate how revolutionary that was.”
Ferrer herself works closely with UNICEF, she says, it serves as “a way for me to really kind of feel a connection to her that … I’ve struggled to feel otherwise.”
While they may not share a connection in terms of having been able to bond with one another Emma Ferrer has inherited her grandmother’s looks. The young woman who is an artist by profession has her grandmother’s trademark dark hair and soulful expressive eyes.
Emma’s father is Sean Hepburn Ferrer, the late actress’ elder son from her first marriage to actor Mel Ferrer. She had another son, Luca Dotti, from her second marriage to Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti.
Emma shares how her father has told her stories about her late grandmother that she would not have heard from anyone or anywhere else.
“There’s been an intimacy in what my dad tells me about her and the stories that people who knew her to tell me about,” Ferrer said.
“Working on set, she would use her lunch break to cook lunch for the whole crew. She did this famous — I guess it was a series on gardens of the world with this … famous news TV personality. … This news person, she got a stain on her shirt, and so my grandmother took her shirt and went and laundered it in her hotel room dry cleaner.”
“These little things, she always brought flowers, and she would bring breakfast in bed if you were staying at her house,” Ferrer continued. “(She) just did these little things that make her seem like she was just the best, the nicest person,” Ferrer shares what she knows and has heard.
Another thing Ferrer proudly declares about her grandmother is how she prioritized her children over her career.
“She had this huge career, and she took really big steps back from it when my dad and his brother were born. She kind of put her whole career on the line for them and turned down movies, where her agent and her husband even were like, ‘What are you doing? You have to take this role,” Ferrer says proudly.
It is believed the reason Hepburn did this was because of her own childhood experiences with her father. She reportedly had a “really fraught” relationship with her father, Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston. Ferrer adds, “She understood what it meant to have that pain with parents, and so I think that she took her relationship with her kids seriously.”
She also highlights how her grandmother was “a child of a generation afflicted by war,” something which colored her worldview and her life.
“She started working as a ballerina, and that didn’t work out. And then she was sort of immediately flung into this arena — this world of Hollywood — and I think that coming off of the heels of the Second World War … everything was just moving faster,” Ferrer said.
While Hepburn’s family was aristocratic, during the war they were “living off of bread” which made her realize “I’m never going to be so attached to material things, no matter what,” according to Ferrer.
This is why the possessions Hepburn left behind are “not very valuable,” per se, but is still “precious,” according to Ferrer.
“I have her little linen teddy bear that’s so old and has a coffee stain on it, and it’s still on my bed at my dad’s house. And I have sweaters that I just have worn so much over the years, and I’ll put it on and forget that it’s hers,” she added.
She also has some costume jewelry her grandmother wore in movies. She says, “They’re things made of not valuable metals at all, but it’s a nice way again to feel like … she’s teaching me things.”
Another thing she has learned from her grandmother is that life is much more important than anything else. She said her grandmother was, “putting the life of a child before politics, before anything else.” “She was always very apolitical,” she adds.
Which makes her wonder what her grandmother would think of the state of the world today. She says, “I would love to have … a trailer for everything that has happened since she’s died, and then just been like, ‘Alright, so, hit me. What are your thoughts today?’”
Ferrer has watched her grandmother’s movies to get to know her but she says the experience can be bittersweet. She shares, “It’s a very abstract thing, and I’m surprised that you pick up on that.” Continuing, “It’s this dichotomy of wishing that I had had the chance to know her and also feeling intimidated by who she is. … It’s like a push and pulls a little bit in that way.”
She says her grandmother was a kind person, stating, “Something that my dad always says about her, which I think is so interesting, is that no one has anything bad to say about Audrey Hepburn ever, which is so true. It’s like, what could you possibly say bad about her?”
Honestly, it is so nice to see how Audrey Hepburn’s granddaughter Emma Ferrer keeps the memory of her grandmother alive even though she was never able to meet her.
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