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The Women Who Made Me: Douglas Booth

This article was first published on 14 December, 2015

In an ongoing series, Refinery29 UK asks some of our favourite men in the public eye about the women they grew up with, the women who shaped them, and the women who continue to inspire them.

Photographed by Matthew Brookes
What is your mother’s greatest quality?
Her selflessness. The amount she does for me is huge. She doesn't do it for praise or get a salary or any awards. She just does it for love.

What do/did you call your grandmothers and what is your relationship with them like?
I called my Dad's mum Nana. She was an English teacher and always rather strict. But very loving. She taught me to work hard and that manners maketh the man. My mother's mum I call Oma. Which is Dutch for grandma. Oma would always sit in between me and my sister on the back seat of the car on our trips on holiday. We would sing "We're all going on a summer holiday" before I'd fall asleep on her arm which I always thought was just the most soft and comfy thing on the planet. I'm in awe of her as she still goes cycling round India, Vietnam, Japan and all the way from her home in Kent to Paris, all in her late seventies. She's quite remarkable.

Who was the first girl or woman you kissed?
A girl whose name I sadly can't remember when I was 12 or 13 hanging out with mates in some park late at night, probably drinking Smirnoff Ice thinking we were really cool.
When did a woman last make you cry?
I last cried for all the refugee mothers who are losing their lives fleeing conflict around the world, desperately trying to find a better life for their children. I know my mum would have stopped at nothing, no sea too wide, no border fence too long, to do that for me and my sister.

Of all the women in your life, whose style do you most admire and why?
My sister Abigail. She always looks stylish yet is not a slave to fashion and is always comfortable in her own skin.

What is your favourite piece of art – be it a film, book, record, painting, performance – by a woman?
That is such an epic question, it's hard to narrow down to one single piece of art. I'm about to start working on a film with a director called Haifaa al-Mansour. Her feature debut Wadjda, which she wrote as well as directed, was the first full feature-length film made in Saudi Arabia and the only film made in Saudi Arabia by a female director. It's a beautiful film about the freedom of women to make choices about the way they lead their lives.

Are you envious of women?
Women for a long time have had to fight for a lot of things that I was lucky enough to get, unfairly for free, by being born a boy. So I'm not envious of that fight, but admire them for it. I suppose I'm envious of women's orgasms; whatever you say, I'm convinced they're better than men's!
Who is your best platonic female friend? Why do you like her?
I'd probably say my friend Zoe. She went to drama school after uni which has sadly meant I haven't seen as much of her recently with us both having crazy schedules. But she's my best female pal because I can talk to her about anything, and she doesn't put up with any bullshit. She could also probably beat me up, no problem!

Which one woman do you most admire?
One woman? Now that's hard. My mother aside, I would have to say Kathy Eldon. She is a great friend of mine and has the most amazing spirit. She has had the most incredible life and influenced so many people for the good. She tragically lost her son, the equally special Dan Eldon at the age of 22 when he was stoned to death working as the youngest ever Reuters photographer, covering the famine and unrest in Somalia in 1993. Kathy went on however to turn her grief into a powerful force for good. She set up Creative Visions, a charity in his name that helps others like Dan to use media and the arts to create meaningful change in the world around them. To date, under their umbrella, the creative activists have touched more than 90 million people around the world. Having gotten to know Kathy personally, it's her generosity, kindness and warmth of spirit that she shares with everyone she meets on a daily basis, whoever they are, that makes her so admirable to me.

What is the most important lesson that a woman has taught you?
To fall in love, be in love and learn from love.

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The Women Who Made Me: Nick Grimshaw