It’s no secret that modern women are choosing to live child-free for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s financial, personal, or professional motivations, some women are completely comfortable without the traditional nuclear family lifestyle.
We’re taking a look at the list of powerful women in Hollywood who continually challenge the status quo by choosing not to have children, and what they have said about their decision.
Allison Janney is an Oscar award winning actress known for her extensive work in film and television. She’s loved for her hilarious no-B.S. attitude and willingness to speak up on important social issues.
In April 2021, during a conversation with fellow actress Drew Barrymore on The Drew Barrymore Show, Allison talked about her decision not to have children. The 61-year-old said “I wasn’t ever really confident that I wanted to have kids, I would rather regret not having kids than have kids and regret that. I’m OK with it.”
American actress and comedian Sarah Silverman is well-known for her candid (and comical) opinions on things. Back in 2017, she tweeted about how her lifestyle of working and being on the road full time caused her to “decide between motherhood & living my fullest life.”
In a follow-up tweet, she points out the double standard that women face when making this decision, writing: “Men don’t have to do that. I’d so love to be a fun dad, coming home from the road & being my best fun dad self.”
It is nobody’s business what a woman decides to do with her body, but women in the public eye face a different kind of scrutiny. Renee Zellweger has been asked about her decision to remain child-free multiple times over the course of her highly successful career.
In a 2008 interview with the London Times, Zellweger made her thoughts on having children clear. She said: “Motherhood has never been an ambition. I don’t think like that.” She added, “I just want to be independent and be able to take care of myself. Anything else is just gravy.”
In a 2014 interview, Winona Ryder (most recently known for her role in Stranger Things) addressed an issue that a lot of women face — the inability to have a child. She said: “This is a little personal but I’m 42 and… Well, I was talking to my dad last year and saying, ‘What if I can’t have a kid?’ and he said, ‘There are other ways to have children in your life,'”
She admits that it’s true, and she does have amazing “doses” of children with her brother’s kids. But she adds “I’ve got to stop listening to other people. It’s crazy the stuff women will tell you.”
Rachel Ray is a celebrity chef and TV personality who has faced questions in interviews about when she and her husband, John Cusimano, plan on starting a family.
In a past interview with ABC, Ray made no apologies when she explained her reasoning. She said: “I’m not too busy for children in general. I love working with them, I love hanging out with them, I love cooking with them. I think that I’m 40 years old, and I have an enormous amount of hours that have to be dedicated to work. For me personally, I would need more time to feel like I’d be a good mom to my own child.”
Chelsea Handler is a comedian, actress, writer, and activist, to name a few of her jobs. She says that her chaotic life in show business wouldn’t be fair to a kid.
When appearing on The Conversation with Amanda De Cadenet in 2013, Handler admitted: “I definitely don’t want to have kids. I don’t think I’d be a great mother.” She explained her reasoning saying “I don’t want to have a kid and have it raised by a nanny. I don’t have the time to raise a child myself.”
The 67-year-old billionaire and media superwoman has spoken more than once about her decision not to have children. In an interview with People, Oprah revealed that she once bought an extra apartment planning for a family, but it didn’t end up being something she wanted.
She has said that she has no regrets about her choice to remain childless. Especially because her project, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, fills any maternal void she may have had. She said, “In fact, they overfill — I’m overflowed with maternal.”
Tracee Ellis Ross
In 2018, Tracee Ellis Ross told The Times that she never wanted to be someone who fell back on the expectations of a patriarchal society.
She said: “I’m constantly asking myself questions, reminding myself, ‘Are you making that decision for you or someone else?'” She also explained how people tend to say “‘Well, that’s the point of the human species, procreation.’ And I’m, like, ‘I think there are a lot of babies, isn’t that part of what’s going wrong, there’s too many?’ Some people could be working on the world being a better place, or just being happy.”
In a Vanity Fair article, 75-year-old Dame Helen Mirren is quoted saying: “[Motherhood] was not my destiny, I kept thinking it would be, waiting for it to happen, but it never did, and I didn’t care what people thought. It was only boring old men [who would ask me].”
In true Mirren fashion, she said: “And whenever they went, ‘What? No children? Well, you’d better get on with it, old girl,’ I’d say ‘No! F*** off!’”
The Sex And The City star takes a page from her character Samantha’s book when it comes to her view on children. In two separate interviews, Kim Cattrall addressed her choice to remain child-free.
She said that she “was feeling both the social pressures and [her] own biological clock ticking” but made the decision that ultimately “being a biological mother just isn’t part of my experience this time around.” She also mentioned that she is able to find maternal fulfillment in other areas of her life, like when a young actress comes to her for advice.
Ashley Judd is an award-winning actress who is also well known for her philanthropic and charity efforts. She has been a supporter and voice for marginalized groups throughout her career, particularly disadvantaged children.
In her 2011 memoir All That Is Bitter And Sweet, Ashley wrote about how she believes that it’s selfish to “pour our resources into making our ‘own’ babies” when there are so many “orphaned or abandoned children who need love, attention, time, and care.” She says this unique view on parenting is a big part of her identity.
Jennifer Aniston is one of the best-known faces in Hollywood. Her decades-long career in the spotlight has resulted in relentless scrutiny from the press and tabloids. Over the years there has been a nearly obsessive focus on her body and rumored (false) pregnancies in the media.
In 2016, she wrote an open letter blog post for the Huffington Post titled “For the Record,” where she began by stating: “For the record, I am not pregnant. What I am is fed up.” Her letter continued to shame the media for its “sport-like scrutiny and body shaming” while adding “: “We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child.”
Ellen and her long-time wife Portia de Rossi have both been questioned about their decision to remain child-free.
In 2014, Ellen told People: “We’d probably be great parents. But it’s a human being and unless you think you have excellent skills and have a drive or yearning in you to do that, the amount of work that that is and responsibility—I wouldn’t want to screw them up! We love our animals.”
Portia De Rossi
Separately from Ellen, Portia de Rossi has also commented on the couple’s decision to remain child-free, telling Out Magazine: “You have to really want to have kids, and neither of us did.”
She continued: “So it’s just going to be me and Ellen and no babies—but we’re the best of friends and married life is blissful, it really is. I’ve never been happier than I am right now.”
Stevie Nicks has a long history of a rock and roll lifestyle in the spotlight, one that kept her distracted from the idea of having children. She had complicated personal struggles between partners and addictions and knew that it would not be the best environment to raise a child.
Speaking with Vulture in 2013, Nicks said: My generation fought very hard for feminism, and we fought very hard to not be labeled as you had to have a husband or you had to be in a relationship.” Despite not having children, at age 73 she’s still involved in her music career and reassured her fans that she’s not lonely, saying “I’ll never be alone. I’ll always be surrounded by people.”
Dolly Parton and her husband Carl Thomas Dean have been married for 56 years but have never had any children.
In an interview with People COUNTRY, Dolly once explained, “I grew up in a big old family with eight kids younger than me and several of my brothers and sisters came to live with me early on in my life. I’ve loved their kids just like they’re my grandkids, and now I’ve got great-grandkids!” Even though Dolly has never had any children of her own, her family and youth-focused charities certainly fulfill any maternal longings.
In an interview with Katie Couric on CBS Sunday Morning, Betty White addressed her decision not to have children.
She said: “No, I’ve never regretted it. I’m so compulsive about stuff. I know that if I had ever gotten pregnant, of course, that would’ve been my whole focus. But I didn’t choose to have children because I’m focused on my career and I don’t think as compulsive as I am that I could manage both.”
Lily Tomlin has been around Hollywood long enough to know a thing or two about handling interviews. Back in 1973, she famously zinged Johnny Carson (and totally shocked the world) when she told the host that she didn’t want children.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, she explained “[Carson] was asking about me not being married, and don’t I want to have children? This was ’73,” Tomlin said. “Females didn’t say that in public then. If you didn’t want to get married or have children, well, that’s off the scale.” She shut him down quickly by saying: “Well, I like children, but I don’t want to bear children. By the way, who has custody of yours?” And everyone laughed. It diffused the tension in the moment.”
Sarah Paulson is in a relationship with fellow American actress Holland Taylor, navigating a 32-year age gap with her 78-year-old partner. She has been extremely vocal about the choices she has made when it comes to having a baby, revealing that she froze her eggs in a 2018 interview with The Sunday Times.
Speaking to Town & Country Magazine, Paulson said: “I don’t want to be torn,” she says. “I don’t want to look at my child and say, ‘You’re the most extraordinary thing that ever happened to me, but also the death knell.'” She decided to prioritize her career and thus far in her life has no regrets.
Even though she’s fairly young at 28 years old, the Disney-alum actor turned popstar turned rockstar didn’t mince words when talking about why she doesn’t plan on having children.
In 2019, Miley told Elle magazine about the environmental motivations behind her decision not to have children. She said: “We’re getting handed a piece-of-s*** planet, and I refuse to hand that down to my child. Until I feel like my kid would live on an earth with fish in the water, I’m not bringing in another person to deal with that.”