Born and raised in Paris, Bardot was an aspiring ballerina in her early life. She started her acting career in 1952. She achieved international recognition in 1957 for her role in the controversial And God Created Woman, and also caught the attention of French intellectuals. She was the subject of Simone de Beauvoir's 1959 essay The Lolita Syndrome, which described her as a "locomotive of women's history" and built upon existentialist themes to declare her the first and most liberated woman of post-war France. Bardot later starred in Jean-Luc Godard's 1963 film Le Mépris. For her role in Louis Malle's 1965 film Viva Maria! she was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress.