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April 03, 2015 07:15 AM

She may be an Oscar winner, but it was no easy path to success for Sally Field, who was told by her own management that she was “not pretty enough” to be a film star.

In the early days of her career, when she was known for roles like Gidget and The Flying Nun, Field’s attempts to transition into the movie industry were met with intense rejection – even from her own agent.

“When I decided I needed to back out of TV altogether, I told him, ‘I’m not going do any more TV’ and he said, ‘Well that’s ridiculous. You can’t do that, you can’t get into film. You’re not pretty enough. You’re not good enough,’ ” Field told the crowd at the Simmons Leadership Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, on Thursday.

“And I said, ‘You’re fired.’ And at the same time, I also left my husband because he was like, ‘Well, what will we do? We don’t have any money.’ And I said, ‘Well get out.’ ”

The Lincoln actress, who plays a woman that falls for a younger man (played by New Girl star Max Greenfield) in the upcoming film Hello, My Name is Doris, discussed several obstacles she faced on her journey to success. She also spoke passionately about her activism, particularly as an ally to the gay community. Field’s 27-year-old son, Sam, is openly gay.

“I consider it one of the great privileges of my life to have been allowed to be a part of my youngest son, my 27-year-old son’s journey to own himself,” said Field, who has two other sons as well. “And it was not an easy one.”

Field told the crowd that “it wasn’t until he was about 21 or 22 that he sat and cried and cried and cried and said he was gay and said, ‘What’ll I do? What’ll I do? I won’t have a family, I won’t have the dreams that I want, and I said, ‘Yes you will!’ ”

Field was honored by the Human Rights Campaign in 2012 for her activism, and her son Sam was even the one to present her with the award.

“That’s why I accepted the award from the HRC, because there are too many families that don’t understand that when you have a gay child, that it should be embraced. They need to be embraced because their struggle with it is a hell of a lot harder than the parents’ struggle with it,” Field told the crowd. “It is not a lifestyle you choose because you think it’s fun or popular or different, it’s what nature said you are. And just as I am short, there isn’t any amount of saying that I’m tall that’s going to make me that.”

Now that she’s 68, Field says she has a few things to tell her 25-year-old self.

“Your thighs are as good as they’re ever going to get,” Field laughed. “So bend down and kiss them, and quit criticizing them.”

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