The country music icon, who turns 75 in January, spoke about the “sacrifices” she’s made to achieve her success during Friday’s episode of Apple TV+’s The Oprah Conversation, telling host Oprah Winfrey that not having children with husband Carl Dean allowed her to focus on work.
“Since I had no kids, and my husband was pretty independent, I had freedom,” she said. “So I think a big part of my whole success is the fact that I was free to work.”
However, that’s not to say that Parton isn’t passionate about the younger generation. In 1995, the singer launched Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a program that mails free books to children until they begin school.
“I didn’t have children because I believed that God didn’t mean for me to have kids so everybody’s kids could be mine, so I could do things like Imagination Library because if I hadn’t had the freedom to work, I wouldn’t have done all the things I’ve done,” she explained. “I wouldn’t be in a position to do all of the things I’m doing now.”
When asked if she believes there have been more sacrifices than rewards in her career, Parton replied, “I’ve made sacrifices, but I think, like I said, I believe what I know I’m supposed to do.”
In the same interview, the Grammy winner also spoke about her approach to aging.
“I don’t think about my life in terms of numbers. First of all, I ain’t never gonna be old because I ain’t got time to be old. I can’t stop long enough to grow old,” she shared with a laugh.
Parton went on to say that she’s going to be “the best I can be at whatever age.”
“I bet you I won’t look much different when I’m 95, if I live that long, because I’m like the Gabor sisters,” she said, referring to the late Hungarian socialites.
“I’m gonna look like a cartoon,” Parton joked. “I’ll have on the makeup. I’ll look as young as my plastic surgeons will allow me and [with] all the makeup and lighting and all that. But I think more than anything, it’s about what comes from inside you.”
“It’s an attitude, and you gotta shine from within. Sometimes, that can make you feel young and make you seem young to other people,” she added.
According to Parton, whose A Holly Dolly Christmas special is set to air in December, she has no plans to retire.
“I don’t plan to retire. I just turned 74 and I plan to be on the cover of Playboy magazine again,” she said on 60 Minutes Australia in March. “See I did Playboy magazine years ago and I thought it’d be such a hoot if they’ll go for it — I don’t know if they will — if I could be on the cover again when I’m 75.”