While speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment gala Wednesday, Aniston recalled a striking conversation she had "toward the end" of the famed NBC sitcom's run with Sherry Lansing, then the chairman of Paramount Pictures.
"One thing I will never forget is the question Sherry asked me: 'What do you imagine for your future?' " Aniston recalled from the podium, as she was honored with the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award for her professional and philanthropic contributions. "I was stumped. 'My future? OK. Well, I barely have today planned out...' "
Aniston kept coming back to that question "as my future unfolded," she said, noting it's "been this riddle that I've been trying to solve throughout the years."
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) December 8, 2021
"Cut to a few years later, a friend gifts me with a meeting with a numerologist – this is California," she deadpanned, to laughter from a crowd that included Jennifer Garner, Tessa Thompson, Molly Shannon, Connie Britton and Steve Carell (Carell introduced Aniston onstage). "After this numerologist did her mysterious arithmetic on me, she said that apparently my numbers very clearly indicated that I am a late bloomer."
Aniston was stumped. "I said, really, are you sure? I mean, I feel like I've kind of partially bloomed? Maybe she didn't have a TV," the "Friends" alum joked. "At first I was a little taken aback by this label as if I was an underachiever who hadn't reached her full potential."
But the term started to grow on her: "You know, maybe I hadn't done my best work yet as an artist or as a human being."
Aniston, who has since flexed in indie films like 2014's "Cake" and Apple TV+'s "The Morning Show" (which she also executive produces), began to embrace the idea she was "just beginning." The star said while she "got into this business to make people laugh," her motivation for telling impactful stories "deepened because I deepened as a person."
"The idea of making some kind of contribution got sparked in me."
Also honored at the breakfast event was Selma Blair, whose new documentary "Introducing, Selma Blair" offers a revealing look at her experience with multiple sclerosis.
The actress and advocate was presented with the Equity in Entertainment award Wednesday by her friend Michelle Pfeiffer, and the two shared an emotional moment onstage, with Pfeiffer calling Blair a "hero" who is "completely transparent with the challenges and heartbreak of this disease and speaks to her struggle and successes like a poet."
Blair urged the powerful women in the room to hire more people with disabilities in Hollywood.
“Seek out the other stories,” she said. “Hire other disabled people in front of and behind the camera. Not because it is the right thing to do, although it is, but because you and whatever project you are working on will be better for having done so.”
More Selma Blair: 'Introducing, Selma Blair' star on vulnerability, her health today
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jennifer Aniston learned she was a 'late bloomer' from a numerologist