How James Cameron’s Fiercely Independent Mother Influenced His Films

Shirley Cameron raced cars and shot guns, and encouraged James to pursue his creativity.

Shirley Cameron with son James at the 2009 unveiling of his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Shirley Cameron grew up in rural Ontario, Canada. She'd learned to shoot, race stock cars, and play powder puff football. By many accounts, she was considered a tomboy at the time. It was part of the reason Philip Cameron, an engineer, fell in love with her.


She'd even joined the Canadian Women's Army Corps, and learned how to dismantle a rifle.


If any of this sounds familiar, it may be because much of her spirit is featured in the films of her son, James Cameron, known for his use of strong female characters, from Sarah Connor to Ellen Ripley.


Shirley is featured in BLOCKBUSTER: THE STORY OF JAMES CAMERON — the award-winning "biopic podcast" series, starring The Walking Dead's Ross Marquand, from filmmaker and journalist Matt Schrader.



BLOCKBUSTER is free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and all other platforms. BLOCKBUSTER is winner of Adweek's Creative Podcast of the Year, and earned two Webby Honorees and NYF Radio Awards, including for Best Podcast Miniseries.


Even when Philip was nervous about his son's interest in art rather than science — Shirley continued to nurture James' creativity.


After the family moved from Ontario to Brea, California, in 1971, young James continued to draw and paint, and even had his work selected for a campaign to honor POW/MIAs, as reported in the Orange Country Register.


You can hear more about the rise of James Cameron in BLOCKBUSTER, free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all other platforms.


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