Hilary Swank’s life is a real Cinderella story. From humble beginnings, she worked tirelessly, climbing to the highest peak in Hollywood, stopping only to be a caregiver to her ailing father. After decades of supporting others, the elements finally came together, allowing her to fulfill her lifelong dream of being a mother.
Recently, the 48-year-old celebrated the birth of healthy twins, and while she’s navigating the early stages of motherhood caring for her sweet little ones, online trolls are attacking her, casting a dark shadow of unsolicited opinions over a beautiful moment.
Swank gained major prominence in Hollywood after playing a transgender man in Boys Don’t Cry (1999). Her outstanding performance earned her several awards, including her first Oscar and Golden Globe Award. Prior to this film, she had roles in movies like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) and The Next Karate Kid (1994), the fourth instalment in The Karate Kid franchise.
She is best known by fans for playing Maggie in the inspirational sports drama, Million Dollar Baby, a film directed by Clint Eastwood who also stars along with Morgan Freeman.
In the movie, her character–an amateur boxer–is vying for a title with the World Boxing Association and dies after an illegal sucker punch in a million-dollar match.
In real life, she won the title of best lead in both the Oscars and Golden Globes.
Hers is a real Cinderella story.
In her Oscar speech for Million Dollar Baby, Swank said, “I’m just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream.”
Growing up in poverty, Swank lived in a trailer park, her mother sacrificing her own dreams in support of her daughter reaching hers.
A hard worker since she was 15, Swank was always determined and earned the successes she’s achieved.
In 2014, she took a break from her hugely successful career to be a caregiver for her father, Stephen Michael Swank, an Air Force and Air National Guard veteran, who needed a risky lung transplant.
The one-year sabbatical turned into three as her father’s recovery from the invasive surgery was slow.
In that time, you’d never find her lounging around. Instead, she was working on a new project, her clothing line Mission Statement, that features “high performance and high fashion” design for women.
Still also caring for her dad, who lived with her until he died in 2021, Swank returned to filming.
Swank’s love for family is demonstrated in the first role she played after three years of caring for her dad. What They Had is a 2018 film starring Swank as a woman coping with her mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s.
She returned to filming around the world with movies like the 2020 horror film The Hunt, the Netflix sci-fi series Away and Alaska Daily, where she plays a high-profile journalist living in Anchorage.
All throughout, Swank generously shares her time and celebrity in bringing awareness to various causes, like advocating for cancer research, and for the wellbeing of animals. She founded the Hilaroo Foundation–a name blending hers and Karoo, a stray dog nearing death that she rescued while filming in Africa–that pairs at-risk teenagers with rescues and has a goal of mutual healing, which she found herself with animals when she was younger.
In an interview with Health, she said, “One of the things that filled my heart was animals because none of them looked at me for anything other than for who I am. It quickly became apparent that they were going to be by my side and a part of my journey forever. They touch my heart in a way that a lot of humans can’t.”
Finding love with a human was a challenge for the Freedom Writers actor, who’s instinct is to care for others before herself–a trait she inherited from her mom.
She wed Chad Lowe in 1997 but the younger brother to celebrity Rob Lowe, struggled with substance abuse and the pair divorced in 2006. Speaking with Vanity Fair in 2008, Swank revealed that she had to give herself some much needed attention. “My pattern is that I’ve taken care of everyone. I took care of my mom; I took care of my dad; I took care of Chad. And I don’t want to carry that anymore. It’s a big habit to break, but in the end I sacrificed part of myself.”
Speaking with USA Today, Swank said that having her ailing father living at her home helped her find a good man.
“It’s almost a great way to weed out people. ‘Wait, you live with your dad?’ The reaction to that helps you move through things faster.” Swank, who met Phillip Schneider, now 45, in the time she was caring for her dad, said she shared with her husband “that same ethos and belief in being there for your family. That started it off right.”
In recognizing her own needs, the Logan Lucky star opened herself to a new relationship with Schneider, an entrepreneur, whom she married in 2018, two years after they met.
Everything started coming together for the Award-winning actor.
In October 2022, Swank announced she was pregnant. The announcement was a surprise to everyone–not even the crew of her show Alaska Daily had known–as she attempted to hide her growing belly with on-the-spot self-tailored clothing. The star continued to film while pregnant, convincingly lying to crew members that, because she was terrible at performing certain activities, she needed a stunt double to shoot in her place.
Referring to her “geriatric pregnancy,” Swank said in an interview with Extra TV, “I was having a career and not having the right relationship until … four years ago, and all the elements needed to come together and be right.”
She later added: “It’s just something I thought about even as a young girl. It’s something that was on my mind, so it’s nice to be here and just be pregnant.”
She wasn’t too surprised she was having twins. She said that as a little girl, she predicted that she would be a mother of two, and increasing the likelihood of having a pair, both her and her husband’s grandmothers are twins.
When Swank was six months pregnant, she spoke with ET and said about the positive support, “It’s just nice to see a lot of women in their 40s going, ‘You gave me hope,’ because once you really believe something can happen, you have a different thought pattern, you know what I mean? You get out of your own way,” the actor said.
In March, Swank posted an ultrasound photo, with what appears to be a baby flexing their arm. She called it, “Baby A, Million Dollar Baby.” Kate Hudson responded with, “Well we know baby A already has mamas shoulders!!!!”
Swank should be praised for how she handled her dad’s death, pregnancy at 48 and a busy work schedule but instead, she was attacked.
Announcing the birth of her children, Swank posted a beautiful photo of her, facing the sunset, cradling the tiny babies. Dismissing the opportunity to congratulate her, one follower remarked, “How deeply irresponsible to bring kids into the world at such an old age, just to fulfill some inner selfish desire for children. By the time your kids are in their 20s both their parents will be in a nursing home or dead.”
Another said, “AREN’T YOU LIKE 50 YRS OLD. Gonna be in your 70’s when they graduate college. MIGHT live to see their wedding, maybe.”
Emmy Rossum, who co-stars with Swank on the 2014 film You’re Not You, snapped back with a simple, yet pointed, “Gfy.” (an abbreviation for go f— yourself).
It needs to be said that today, it’s not uncommon for women to give birth later in life.
In fact, a 2018 study by Pew Research reports that more women are having babies “at the end of their childbearing years.” The study attributes the growing numbers to “increases in educational attainment and women’s labor force participation, as well as delays in marriage.” The reports also says, “Given these social and cultural shifts, it seems likely that the postponement of childbearing will continue.”