From the moment I first set eyes on Uma Thurman in her fourth feature film, 1988’s “Dangerous Liaisons,” I was smitten. Just 18 when the film was released, she had a willowy, unconventional beauty magnified by a budding sexuality that sprang off the screen. The scene where John Malkovich seduces her stays with me still.

My fascination held throughout the following decade, with a notable spike in 1994 when Uma did her famous dance with John Travolta in Quentin Tarantino’s edgy, irresistible “Pulp Fiction.” Her Mia Wallace was a character well beyond cool. She worked with him again on the “Kill Bill” films, and he considers her his muse. Good call, Quentin.

In the wake of two divorces (from actors Gary Oldman and Ethan Hawke) and a career that’s had its ups and downs over the years, Uma is still very much in the game. She is also thoroughly grounded, with a wise, balanced perspective on her high-profile life and career.

In her own words: “You learn that the first failure isn't the end. I thought I'd seen the end of my career ten times over. I've experienced them as death blows. What's nice - after numerous efforts, successes, failures, losses, professional and personal — is to actually accept you're not going to ace your life. You suffer, then you get on with it.”

Uma was born in Boston in 1970. Her father, Robert Thurman, was (and is) a prominent professor, author and practitioner of Buddhism, and her mother Nena, a former fashion model-turned-psychotherapist who’d been briefly married to LSD guru Timothy Leary. Uma had, by all accounts, an eclectic, offbeat upbringing. More than once, she and her brothers came home to discover that the Dalai Lama had dropped by for tea.

Uma had a difficult time adjusting in school. She’d always towered over her fellow students, standing a full  5’10” at the tender age of 13. As she remembers, “I was not particularly bright, I wasn't very athletic, I was a little too tall, odd, funny looking, I was just really weird as a kid.”

Acting gave her the chance to escape into other characters. Following her mother into a modeling career after high school, her goal was always to act. And she had the chops — and the looks — to get to the big time fast.

The mother of three children (two with Hawke, one with boyfriend Arpad Busson), Uma’s life is full. She is no longer odd, funny-looking, or weird. As in a fairy tale, this once gangly, awkward little hatchling blossomed into a beautiful swan. Most important, she’s equipped with the brains, sense and style to stay gloriously afloat.

Here’s to the future with you in it, Uma Thurman.

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