With nearly four decades in the industry, actress Claire Danes has matured from awkward teen queen into one of the most popular performers of her generation. A precocious talent, Danes was only 9 years old when she began taking acting classes at the Lee Strasberg Studio. In 1992 she caught her first big break when she landed the starring role of Angela Chase, a curious and hyper-intelligent teen in the series My So-Called Life, which eventually debuted in late summer 1994.
While ratings for the program never ballooned, the show proved to be a hit with critics and Danes received a Golden Globe for best actress. Following her early success on TV, Danes pursued roles that cast her both in smaller art house films and larger blockbusters. Throughout it all, she remained in the media spotlight, appearing on countless magazine covers and as the object of speculation from the media.
In 1998 Danes attracted more attention when she enrolled in Yale University. The actress arrived in New Haven having already made thirteen films in the past five years. Not the typical Yale freshman, Danes was twenty, rich, and extremely famous. As an example of this fame, her letter of recommendation to Yale University was written by legendary director (and fellow Yale dropout) Oliver Stone. On campus, Danes took psychology as her major, but academics were not her primary reason for going to school.
"I wanted to try and socialize myself because I was starting to feel a bit strange, a little on the fringe of my generation, my contemporaries," the actress said, looking back on her decisions. "Did it work? Yeah. I learned how to think in an analytical way, how to basically read and write and I wasn't a freak anymore."
By 2000, two years after enrolling, Danes had learned all that she needed from Yale and withdrew to continue her career in Hollywood.
After a few years of professional instability, Danes reestablished herself in television as Carrie Mathison, a bipolar CIA terror expert wrapped up in ongoing espionage dramas, in the TV drama Homeland. The show launched in 2011 and the super talented performer won Emmy Awards in 2012 and 2013 as outstanding leading actress in a drama series.
To date, her ability to win over audiences and critics alike has resulted in Danes racking up three Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. In 2012, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. And while her time at Yale was cut short, she has remained an advocate for education, supporting Donorschoose.org, a website where public school teachers can create funding projects for their classrooms and students.
Moreover, Danes also made a noticeable appearance on the Ivy League scene in 2012 when she was named Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year, an award bestowed by the Hasty Pudding Theatricals Society at Harvard in recognition of performers who have made a lasting impact in the world of entertainment. It wasn’t a Harvard degree, but so far Danes seems to be doing just fine without one.