The Forward 50

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman

Culture

In her Academy-Award winning role in the 2010 movie “Black Swan,” Natalie Portman plays a manic ballerina whose quest for perfection leads to her own spectacular demise. While it would make for good copy to say that Portman’s art imitates her life, the truth is that the 30-year-old actress is possessed of such poise and aplomb that it makes her potent portrayal of the unhinged New York City ballet star Nina Sayers all the more impressive. This year was a huge year for the young actress, both personally and professionally. Not only did she take home the Oscar for Best Actress, the Golden Globe Award and the Screen Actors Guild Award — all for her acting in “Black Swan” — she also became engaged to

the film’s choreographer, Benjamin Millepied, a ballet instructor and a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. The couple announced the birth of their son, Aleph Portman-Millepied, in June. In naming their child after the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet, Portman raised eyebrows in the celebrity-watching blogosphere. But it seems to be a clear — if curious — indication of Portman’s strong connection to both her Jewish and Israeli identities. Portman — born Natalie Hershlag in Jerusalem — carries dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship, and the Portman-Millepied family shines as one of Hollywood’s leading Jewish lights.

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