“Never borrow money from friends,” says Minnie Driver. Unless, she adds, your friends are rich.
The Speechless actress—who also founded a production company with her sister; has a second career as a singer/songwriter; and last year launched an HSN home textile line, Minnie Driver’s English Living—has learned to be a businesswoman a few times over. But most of her money lessons came even earlier, from her mom, a successful fabric designer.
Growing up in England, she says, “We had a thing called the post office savings account. It was like a bank account before you were old enough to have a bank account. It taught me to be aware of my finances from a very early age.”
Now, she’s got a few lessons of her own to impart, like “never use your own money if you can possibly help it.” But Driver also stresses the importance of investing in the causes you care about, which she’s teaching her son Henry, whom she recently brought to a Mother’s Day fundraiser for Best Buddies International, the nonprofit that facilitates friendships and career opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It’s an initiative close to Driver’s heart and one that Speechless, about a teen with cerebral palsy, dives into.
Below, the actress gets frank about putting your money where your mouth is and the most important thing about borrowing cash from rich friends.
On borrowing money… [My mom] said never borrow money from friends, but the reality is sometimes that’s really your only option if you have a rich friend. She always said whenever you ask for money from someone, whoever it is, have your business plan ready. Before you ask for the money, have an incredibly clear idea of your plan and what you’re going to do with that money. It serves to show that you’re serious about what it is that you need and how you intend to pay it back.
On whether she’s felt the gender pay gap… Fuck yes! And I’m sorry to swear. It’s really interesting. I’ll tell you, right now a lot of studios and companies are retroactively bumping up the amount of money that women are being paid in television because they don’t want to get sued in a class action suit, but it’s interesting to me that the gap is being closed in my industry in a lot of different areas. Primarily because people believe that it’s wrong. It’s not fair and that’s all that we’ve been fighting for is fairity. I think the conversation is changing, maybe not quick enough. Here’s the thing—in Hollywood, the rest of America, and then the rest of the world—the more we shout about it, the harder it is to look away.
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On the importance of investors… Never use your own money if you can possibly help it. Sometimes, the key is genuinely finding someone to invest in your company who shares your belief, your passion, and can underwrite.
On the most important business lesson she’s learned… Don’t expand beyond your means.
On her teenage allowance… I used to save up money for vinyl records.
On negotiating… I don’t really have a [negotiating] style because my agent negotiates for me. His style is incredibly forthright and strong. He knows my worth and he is invested in me. I always consider my agent to be my primary investor. They don’t get paid unless I get paid, and he’s backing me. I’m the horse that he’s backing. I believe in his belief in me. I know what I have to offer, and I hold that in worth. I don’t say that there’s anything more special than the next actor, but I know what I have is worthy, and I’ve worked hard to feel that way.
On sharing salary information… I think when you’re [negotiating] yourself, you have to be very clear on what the market is and see what other people in the same business that you’re in are getting paid. If you can, find out what the male and female disparity in your particular business is. Then speak to your talents, speak to your worth. As a woman, you have to be more articulate about what it is that you’re offering and what number that compensation should be.
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