The Hollywood Reporter’s most recent roundtable interview brought six actresses—Jennifer Lawrence (mother!), Emma Stone (Battle of the Sexes), Mary J. Blige (Mudbound), Jessica Chastain (Molly’s Game), Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird), and Allison Janney (I, Tonya)—together for a discussion about navigating the toxic work environment that is Hollywood, equal pay, and a little bit of acting.
Each actress shared her thoughts on the various recent revelations about the sexism and predation that pervades Hollywood. Jessica Chastain: “I’m devastated by all the stories that have come out because it’s heartbreaking, but at the same time I feel hopeful because we’re not ignoring it anymore.” Mary J. Blige: “And I believe that things will change because this is making other women say, ‘Me too,’ ‘Me too,’ ‘Me too’ — it keeps happening every day because people are tired of sitting around with that secret that holds them prisoner.” Emma Stone: “So it’s a huge conversation for our industry, but I would hope that this is only the tipping point for us to discuss equal pay for equal work for women across every industry.” Etc., etc.
But my favorite tidbit was when Chastain was put in the unenviable position of defending Aaron Sorkin (who wrote and directed Molly’s Game). Chastain described that she was impressed that Sorkin chose to make a film about a woman dealing with sexism and relayed a pretty great story that perfectly demonstrates Sorkin’s (and plenty of men’s) huge blindspot:
He said that he was talking to his daughter, Roxy, and saying, “Listen, when you go into the workforce, if a guy grabs you or does something with you, you can scream, you can fight back.” And she turned to him and said, “Dad, why are you teaching me to defend myself and not teaching those guys not to be creeps?” The onus isn’t on women. Society has a way of blaming victims: You didn’t come out soon enough or you’re not asking for enough money. But the onus is on others not to abuse their power.
Sometimes I wonder if the bar for men is just a little bit too low. And I realize over and over again that the bar for men is actually nonexistent. Anyway, can’t wait to see this story based on extremely basic logic become a very poignant scene in the West Wing reboot that probably isn’t happening but still haunts us.