"I was 17, and I became a masseuse and did a course because we couldn’t afford for her to get massages after her chemo and her radiation," she said.
It's not just the stellar performances she gives for the camera that make the world fall in love with Nicole Kidman. It is also the kindness she shows to the people around her that makes her one of the most respected actors of her generation. And that empathy she shows to people comes from all that she has seen and experienced throughout her childhood.
"I've always been aware of privilege because both my parents came from nothing,” Kidman told Glamour. “When we moved to America, we had nothing. My parents had to go to the Salvation Army and get a donated mattress, which we all slept on..."
After her father became a psychologist, Kidman would often see him offer free therapy to those who didn't have money. In addition to this, Kidman would also see the struggles that people would go through whenever she accompanied her mother, a nurse, to work.
"When I was younger, I would sit in the hospital and wait for my mum to finish work, where I saw a lot of people battling for their lives with cancer and terrible injuries,” Kidman recalled. "As a child, I was like, ‘This is awful.’ But that's a really good thing as I’ve always been able to take a step through into other worlds and put myself into a position of gratitude and the desire to go and help."
Kidman's desire to help people shone through when her family was going "through the most traumatic time." Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer back then, and Kidman tried to do whatever she could as a teenager to ease her mother through the pain of chemo and radiation.
"My mother had breast cancer and it was quite advanced breast cancer," she told ITN news, as quoted by Evening Standard. "She had chemotherapy and radio and is a survivor now. I want that to be heard."
"I have seen my mother go through it. I think that has had an effect on me. I was in my late teens and that impact has imprinted on me in a way I will never forget," the Oscar-winning actress added.
Kidman went to the extent of becoming a trained masseuse just so she could give her mother massages after her chemo sessions.
"...My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 45, I was 17, and I became a masseuse and did a course because we couldn’t afford for her to get massages after her chemo and her radiation," she told Byrdie. "We didn’t have enough money. So I learned to give massage. And then I really fell in love with giving massage."
That experience of doing something for her mother's wellbeing showed her the beauty in giving to others.
"...As a daughter, it was my way of helping her through the most traumatic time for us as a family. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to give," Kidman shared.
The actress noted that it's not always about the grand gestures; sometimes, it is the simplest things that can turn someone's day from good to bad.
She said, "...It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture. It’s just those micro-decisions to be happier. Even just saying thank you, smiling. I love walking down the street and smiling at people. It’s amazing what that does."
Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer