Looking at Jennifer Aniston’s success, it’s easy to think she had an incredible childhood that paved the way for a perfect life.
The 54-year-old is blessed with beauty, talent, and genes – her father is John Aniston, famed for his role as the mobster Victor Kiriakis in Days of Our Lives – however, life wasn’t so fortunate for her as a young girl.
Reflecting on her life, the Morning Show star shared how she moved on from painful challenges from her past, including a difficult relationship with her late mother.
Opening up about the importance of letting go of “toxic” anger, Aniston says of her once estranged mother, “Thank you for showing me what never to be.”
Keep reading to learn more about Jennifer Aniston before she was a superstar!
Jennifer Aniston was born on February 11, 1969, to parents John Aniston and Nancy Dow, who were married from 1965 to 1980.
John, who died at 89 in 2022, was best known for his role on Days of Our Lives, which he played on and off for 37 years until his death. Her mother, who died at 79 in 2016, was an actor with a few minor roles in TV series like The Beverly Hillbillies and The Wild Wild West.
When Aniston’s parents divorced when she was nine, the Cake star said “It screwed up” her mom. But, Aniston “was thrilled to get out” of the old family home in New York City that “was not a fun house to live in.”
Speaking with her pal Sandra Bullock for Interview Magazine in 2020, Aniston further explained how “growing up in a household that was destabilized and felt unsafe” helped her deal with life when it derails.
“Watching adults being unkind to each other and witnessing certain things about human behavior made me think: ‘I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be that. I don’t want to experience this feeling I’m having in my body right now. I don’t want anyone else that I ever come in contact with ever to feel that.” The Just Go With It star continued, “I guess I have my parents to thank…You can either be angry or be a martyr, or you can say, ‘You’ve got lemons? Let’s make lemonade.’”
But a lot of the time it felt like her mom was hurling lemons at her.
“I have had to do personal work that was long overdue, parts of me that hadn’t healed from the time I was a little kid,” Aniston shared.
“She had a temper. I can’t tolerate that. If I get upset, I will discuss [things]. I will never scream and get hysterical like that.” Aniston, completely unaware of her staggering beauty, continues, “She was critical. She was very critical of me. Because she was a model, she was gorgeous. I wasn’t. I never was. I honestly still don’t think of myself in that sort of light, which is fine. She was also very unforgiving. She would hold grudges that I just found so petty.”
Speaking with the Hollywood Reporter, the Horrible Bosses star reveals that she never lived up to Dow’s expectations, and there were years they didn’t speak.
Aniston adds, “I did not come out the model child she’d hoped for, and it was something that resonated with me, this little girl just wanting to be seen and wanting to be loved by a mum who was too occupied with things that didn’t quite matter.”
Aniston stopped speaking to Dow after her mom wrote the 1999 tell-all book, “From Mother and Daughter to Friends: A Memoir.” The star was reportedly furious that her mother had violated her privacy.
Aniston was so upset that she didn’t invite her mother to her 2000 wedding to Brad Pitt, although they eventually reconciled after the couple divorced.
But she reportedly hadn’t seen her mother in several years before the death of Dow, who earlier suffered a couple of strokes.
Meanwhile, the relationship she had with her dad was quite different.
“He thought I was going down the road of absolute destruction and heartache,” she said of following his path in acting. “And then I kind of got a whole different relationship with him once he had something to talk to me about. Which was, ‘Oh, you’re an actor. I’m an actor.’”
Aniston is way more than just an actor.
One of the highest-paid actors in the industry, Aniston, who holds a Primetime Emmy and a Golden Globe, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, has been listed several times as one of the world’s most beautiful women, and runs LolaVie, a haircare company. She’s also the founder of Echo Films, a production company with titles she stars in, like The Switch, Dumplin’, and Murder Mystery 2.
In June 2022, before he died, John received a Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement award, which was presented in a pre-recorded segment by his daughter, who praised him for his decades-long acting career.
And when he died, the comic posted a sweet photo of him holding her as a baby, along with a heartfelt message on Instagram. The Friends star writes, “Sweet papa…John Anthony Aniston, You were one of the most beautiful humans I ever knew. I am so grateful that you went soaring into the heavens in peace – and without pain…I’ll love you till the end of time. Don’t forget to visit.”
She also reconciled with her mother before her death.
“I forgave my mom. I forgave my father. I’ve forgiven my family,” she says, adding that it’s about honoring all moments, good and bad.
“It’s important…It’s toxic to have that resentment, that anger. I learned that by watching my mom never let go of it. I remember saying, ‘Thank you for showing me what never to be.’ So that’s what I mean about taking the darker things that happen in our lives, the not-so-happy moments, and trying to find places to honor them because of what they have given to us,” she said.
Jennifer Aniston is such a humble and impressive talent! It’s always interesting to learn about a star’s history and see them as average human beings. Still, it’s sad to hear that Aniston had such a strained relationship with her mother and we hope she’s found some peace.
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