Susan Lucci Says She's Learned in Her 70s Not to Let Age 'Define You': 'Don't Count Yourself Out' (Exclusive)

The Daytime Emmys-winning actress explained to PEOPLE why people in their golden years shouldn't label themselves

<p>Rob Kim/WireImage</p> Susan Lucci in New York City in March 2024.

Rob Kim/WireImage

Susan Lucci in New York City in March 2024.

Susan Lucci has sage advice for people navigating life in their 70s.

The actress, 77, spoke with PEOPLE ahead of receiving the Spirit of Life Award on June 4 in New York City, reflecting on her career.

Although Lucci lost her husband Helmut Huber, who died in March 2022 at age 84, and the actress has had two heart surgeries in 2018 and 2022, she's in a good place now, having finished filming the crime drama Outcome, co-written and directed by Jonah Hill. The cast includes Hill, Keanu Reeves, Cameron Diaz, Matt Bomer and Laverne Cox.

“I am feeling good,” she explains. "I realized there were fewer parts for someone in her seventies as I am. But on the other hand, I'm thrilled right now to have been playing a part that I absolutely viewed as a challenge, and what I wanted to take and get to work with Jonah Hill, who I have so much respect for.”

Over the last 12 months, Lucci has also been receiving the recognition she so richly deserves for her decades-long contributions to television, which includes starring as Erica Kane on the ABC daytime drama All My Children for nearly 40 years — a role that helped make her one of the famous faces on TV.

Related: The Cast of All My Children: Where Are They Now?

<p>Kevin Winter/Getty</p> Susan Lucci in Los Angeles, California in December 2023.

Kevin Winter/Getty

Susan Lucci in Los Angeles, California in December 2023.

During her acceptance speech, Lucci thanked everyone in the room. "How lucky am I to dream my dreams of becoming an actress and grow up and have my dreams come true? There were obstacles and there were roadblocks — they were wannabe obstacles and roadblocks — but tonight's a night to celebrate."

During her conversation with PEOPLE, Lucci also advised people in their golden years not to "count yourself out."

"No matter what her career is … don't count yourself out. Don't assume the worst," she added. "Keep on being you."

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For Lucci, her mother, Jeanette Lucci, who died in June 2021, was a source of wisdom.

"I remember when I turned 60. I called my mother,” the star recalled. “I was having a lot of trouble with that particular number, and I called my mother and I said, ‘Mom, how did you deal with it? And how are you dealing with now?’ … And there was a little pause on the other end and she said, ‘Well, I just don't think about it.’ And I thought, you know what? That is the best answer anyone could give me. … Don't put any labels on yourself. Don't let the number define you."

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