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Peter Dinklage, Kenneth Branagh, Sharon Horgan: The best of Letter To My Younger Self 2022

Hard won lessons from The Big Issue’s must-read weekly feature.

Each week in The Big Issue we ask famous figures to give a good talking to their younger selves. Their words of hard-won wisdom are revealing, inspiring and always a must-read. Here are a few highlights from those who have shared their story with us this year in Letter to My Younger Self.

Peter Dinklage: Wasted youth – and that’s no mistake

They say youth is wasted on the young but it’s truly not. The amoeba is forming itself, cells are dividing, everything is sorting itself out. At that time you are riddled with doubt but you also have an arrogance. It’s the time you’re supposed to make mistake after mistake and learn from them. I still wonder every day how many mistakes I will ratchet up, but as Beckett said: fail again, fail better. And there are no mistakes, especially in what I do for a living. Read the full interview.

Kenneth Branagh in Dunkirk
Kenneth Branagh in Dunkirk. Photo: PR

Kenneth Branagh: Belfast boy

I would tell my younger self to worry less about being liked and more about being real. Be as kind as you can be, but also honest and direct, which is difficult because we so want to be liked. Accept you will always fail at these attempts to be a decent human being, but pat yourself on the back for the attempt, don’t punish yourself for the inevitable failure. The journey of 10,000 miles begins with the first step. Keep taking it. Read more.

Sharon Horgan: Divorce is no catastrophe

I’d tell my younger self that sometimes it’s a really positive thing to move on from a relationship. It can mean your life suddenly just opens up and feels much more suited to your personality. I feel like, especially if you come from a religious background – I was brought up Catholic – divorce is kind of a dirty word. But it shouldn’t be. Divorce can be a really helpful, handy thing that can change your life. There’s a lot of shame attached to the failure of a relationship, and that shouldn’t be the case. Especially if you’ve given it a good go and you’ve got a loving family. Read the full letter.

Paul O’Grady: Savage altar boy

I was an altar boy until I saw a film called Gypsy about Gypsy Rose Lee. All of a sudden, my whole style on the altar changed – you had this 12-year-old stripper. I used to lift my cassock to go down the steps – you know, show an ankle – and swing the thurible more enthusiastically than I should have.  What attracted me to Gypsy wasn’t the glamour, it was the backstage sleaze and crummy dressing rooms. I thought, that must be a wonderful life. Read the full interview.

Louis Theroux with rappers Ratchet Roach and Boo Bon in  Louis Theroux’s Forbidden America
Theroux with rappers Ratchet Roach and Boo Bon in Louis Theroux’s Forbidden America. Photo: BBC/Mindhouse Productions/Dan Dewsbury

Louis Theroux: Weird adolescence

In my early teens I was trying to figure out who I was and get a girlfriend and not having a lot of luck. Then, when I was 16, my voice broke, and the first green shoots of pubic hair began to appear. The long awaited ‘manhood’ finally seemed to flower, which was a huge relief. Part of me had wondered if I would ever get any proper tackle. But at the same time, I was like, well, now what? What does it mean to be me?  Read more.

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Mrs Harris goes to Paris
Lesley Manville’s Mrs Harris won’t be pushed around in her quest to get her dream Dior design in Mrs Harris goes to Paris. Photo: Dávid Lukács / © 2021 Ada Films Ltd – Harris Squared Kft

Lesley Manville: Not a lover of luvvies

Do not ever, ever, ever, ever go out with an actor! Because unfortunately that’s all I’ve ever done. It’s really bad of me. I really should have cast the net a bit wider. One director, but the rest actors. And they’re for the most part lovely, but it’s just not a good cocktail, two actors. Full interview here.

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Simon Pegg: Drama queen

If you met the teenage me you’d see someone who is pretty confident and friendly, but I also had that teenage angst. And I was an absolute drama queen as well. I loved the agony of romance in my early relationships. I think I liked listening to break-up songs as much as any other part of the relationship.  Read more.

Clive Myrie: From the front line

I’ve been in some dangerous situations, but I don’t think I ever thought about the danger. It’s interesting talking to soldiers, and to those who do go into battle. You never ever think, really consciously, that you’re going to be the one who gets shot or blown up or killed. There is an adrenaline rush in being a journalist on the front line, something that makes you want to go back for more. Although for me I don’t think it’s the sense that I’m potentially in danger. It’s just about telling stories from incredible places. And usually you see the very best and worst of human nature in a conflict situation. Those are the best moments, when you’re going to get the most interesting human stories. Read the full interview.

Motsi Mabuse: Strictly enough

The thing that gets taken away from you with the racism in South Africa is your self-worth. So I would love to be able to tell my younger self that you are enough. I would love if she could go out into the world knowing she is enough in every situation. If I could speak to her, I wish I could make sure she really falls in love with herself but more than falling in love with herself, trusts herself – trusting her instinct, trusting what she feels. Dancing was segregated when I was growing up, and it impacted you because you understood that we were just  a few steps behind.  Read more.

Lorraine Kelly and Dr Hilary Jones
Lorraine Kelly and Dr Hilary Jones on set in 2021 Photo: S Meddle/ITV/Shutterstock

Lorraine Kelly: Kelly’s hero is her younger self

If I could go back and tell 16-year-old me about becoming a well-known person I think she’d say bring it on! She was much bolder than I am now. When I was working for BBC Scotland the boss told me I would never make it in television because of my accent. But that gave me the balls somehow, when I knew there was a job going at TV-am, to phone the boss. When you’re young, you’ve got nothing to lose. Read the full interview.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income.To support our work buy a copy! If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

The new book Letter to My Younger Self: Inspirational Women is out now, you can order it here.

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