Melissa McCarthy Says These 3 Words from Her Parents Changed the Course of Her Life

Melissa McCarthy tells PEOPLE a three-word phrase her parents repeated to her while younger made all the difference in her life

Melissa McCarthy really appreciates her parents’ never-ending encouragement while she was young.

The Life of the Party actress, 47, admits in PEOPLE’s latest cover story that her mother Sandy and her father Mike’s honesty when it came to their support shaped the way she looks at life. In fact, a three-word phrase they would repeat still rings true to her.

“‘Why not you?’ is an unbelievably great sentiment to give to a kid,” McCarthy tells PEOPLE in the new issue out Friday. “Not entitlement but instead: Work your butt off, and you have a decent chance at this. ‘Why not you?’ is an undervalued way of thinking.”

Cliff Watts

This advice came in handy when she stepped into the hard world of acting.

“When I wanted to do something, they didn’t say, ‘You can do anything, you’re perfect!’ ” McCarthy continues about her childhood. “Instead they said, ‘Well, if you work really hard, you’ve got as good a chance as anybody else.’ At every step in my journey, without my parents saying, ‘Why not? Keep your head on your shoulders and keep going ,’ I don’t know that I would have made it.”

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McCarthy is also thankful that her mother, who is now 74 and used to work for World Book Encyclopedia, never worried about other people’s opinions — including when it came to the way she looked.

Albert L. Ortega/Getty

“The words ‘I hope this looks okay’ never came out of her mouth. If there was something that annoyed her, I didn’t hear about it,” she recalls. “She didn’t give it time on her calendar. But in a really positive way, not in a ball-busting, ‘Screw the world!’ sort of way. She just didn’t give it time. She’s really solid in her shoes—she wishes people well and then keeps on moving. Watching that as an example is one of the greatest gifts I got from her.”

Now, McCarthy doesn’t worry about tabloid headlines that fabricate problems in her happy day-to-day life.

“My kids do the craziest things, and my dogs are weird,” she says. “My husband makes me gut-laugh every day. So, you know, I love my life right now. I laugh all day long. Maybe I’m just living in a bubble, but it’s a pretty great bubble, if you ask me!”

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