Now, Griffith is passing along what she's gleaned to actress daughter Dakota Johnson. Griffith says she and Dakota's father, actor Don Johnson, try to be as honest as possible about the reality of working in Hollywood, while also encouraging the Fifty Shades of Grey star to find her own way.
"She is very strong and she's charting her own course," says Griffith. "But she does listen to her dad and I just try to stress to her that the most important part is enjoying the work and having fun and for her to really be enjoying this time in her life because it's not always this great. As great as it is for her right now, she's going to have times where she's really not having any fun, you know? It just happens.
"It's a very strange business because you either have the magic or you don't," she continued. "It's not anything you can learn from anybody. The camera either loves you or it doesn't and that's the part that's really hard and sad for many people – they just don't have that thing. Dakota has got that thing all over the place, she's just magic in front of the camera, she was born that way, it wasn't an acquired thing."
For much more on Melanie Griffith, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.