Jane Fonda's positivity at 77 is all down to one tragic life event.

She’s acted in almost 50 films, won two Academy Awards, is the star of the Netflix series Grace and Frankie and at 77 years-old, says she feels better than ever.

Yet, it was a tragic event that Jane Fonda credits for her positive, can-do attitude. Fonda found out her mother took her own life after a battle with mental illness, rather than dying of heart failure as she was told as a 12-year-old.

Jane Fonda.

“I’ve never lost sight of the fact that my mother [Canadian socialite, Frances Seymour] committed suicide at age 42,” she told the Mirror. “So I’m grateful to still be alive and healthy, that destiny has taken me this far.”

Fonda also had a difficult relationship with her father, actor Henry Fonda, who died in 1982.

While she may have swapped her daring Barbarella costumes for a disabled parking permit (Fonda was recently spotted cheerily putting it up in her car), half a century after she made her film debut, the Grace and Frankie actress remains something of a sex symbol – no mean feat given the ageist tendencies we see all too often in Hollywood.

She’s beaten cancer, had a knee and hip replacement and suffers from osteoporosis, yet embraces them as inevitables that come with ageing, believing that youth is much more than skin deep.

Want to reminisce on Jane Fonda's movies through the years? (Post continues after gallery.)

“I’ve always remained very physically active. You don’t have to accept any limits beyond what your body allows,” she told the Mirror.

“I believe that as you get older, your mind can overcome a lot of the failings of your body by maintaining a youthful spirit and passion for everything life has to offer.”

As she said to The Guardian earlier this year, “I have a fake hip, knee, thumb; more metal in me than a bionic woman, but I can still do pilates.”

The 77-year-old is not shy about admitting she’s had help along the way, claiming “it bought her a decade”, but insists there’s no secret formula other than hard work.

“I make sure I get eight or nine hours sleep a night, try to stay out of the sun to protect my skin and work out almost every day and eat the healthiest, organic food I can find,” she revealed to the Mirror.

Jane Fonda is well-known for her workout routines.

Fonda, who married three times and has been dating music producer Richard Perry for six years, says she is more confident and happier than she’s been in many years.

“I know I’ve figured out so many things about who I am and managed to become more secure in my own identity. Those are all very important things that I’ve been able to achieve later in life.”

“There are certain things I wish I had or hadn’t done but they made me who I am. I could have done many things smarter, better, safer. One thing that’s really important: what makes you what you are is your mistakes. It’s not your successes,” she told The Guardian. 

Jane Fonda and her boyfriend, Richard Perry.

After retiring from acting in 1990, Fonda returned to the screen for Monster-In-Law in 2005, and has worked across film and TV since then, including The Newsroom and the Cannes debut film, Youth.

Still, Fonda says she’s surprised people are still knocking at her door, as work becomes scarcer when you reach 40- or 50 years-old.

“Men are seen as becoming elegant and more desirable, whereas women are seen as having lost their beauty and attractiveness. It’s as if we become devalued because only our beauty defines us,” she told the Mirror.

“That’s what puts all this terrible pressure on women to look as young as possible. Society values youth – and particularly so when it comes to women. It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is.”

Do you agree with Fonda that youth is all about spirit?

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This article was originally published on The Glow.

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