Female Troubles

f0b361926d1df061b408bbf54bab22b7

An incredibly condescending meme comparing Michelle Obama and Jackie O has been going around, lamenting the days of the demure, beautiful first lady and presenting Michelle as somehow being crass. Worse, I saw it passed around by women. You have got to be kidding me.

It nearly made me burst into tears that women can be so pointlessly cruel to one another. I was offended to the core of my being by the overt racism, the blatant disrespect and unfair set up (Classic Jackie posed in pearls next to Michelle in a tank top cheering at a sporting event…I mean, come on!), but I also immediately laughed out loud at the misguided absurdity of this meme that also entirely miscalculates what it means to be a woman.

A woman is not something quiet and pretty that sits in the corner smiling…nope, you’re thinking of a doll. A woman is a fierce, dynamic magician who spends her day solving problems, supporting loved-ones and ruffling feathers when she needs to, to fight for those she loves, protects and provides for. A woman wears 10+ hats a day – executive, chef, teacher, chauffeur, goddess, mother, accountant, wife, athlete, lover, doctor, therapist, friend, hero, on and on ….. and yes, enthusiastic, cheering fan at a sporting event.

Jackie, regardless of how intense and multilayered her inner life may have been, was generally expected to be pretty and quiet in public. She was for all intents and purposes, window dressing for her husband. Sure, she was educated and skilled in her own right, yet her main job was to be a soothing, non-threatening, perfect accessory. How many of us can actually relate to that? Does that sound anything like your life or the life of any woman you know?? No. Luckily we’ve reached a time where we all deserve better than a first lady who is asked to be quiet and pretty in the corner. You can be guaranteed that every woman has more to offer than a sweet smile and a little black dress. Thank God we have miraculously been given this fierce #FLOTUS in our new millennium who is using every second of her time to better the world around her, to show the power of a woman with a mission. A woman who has chosen to use her time to fight for girls education worldwide, to work on behalf of children, fight obesity, and, and, and….

She also manages to do all of it with class, joy and humor while also being a wonderful mother, a successful lawyer and writer, a supportive and equal partner to her extraordinary husband, and yes – she can rock a set of pearls and pick out the china patterns if you insist it’s necessary….after she gets back from the ball game.

Women….we are better than this. Let’s hold each other up instead of being part of the problem. The value of every woman is more than her perceived beauty at any given moment. I hope to one day to manage to be a fraction of the courageous, accomplished, graceful lioness that Michelle is. Regardless of your political leanings, she is unquestionably a role model, a beautiful example of using your power to fight for those weaker than you, and a lightening rod for positive change. Three cheers.

Grrrrrrr.

Just read this article:   Where have all the women gone in movies? By Rebecca Keegan

Not great news.  Some excerpts:

Despite the success of recent female-driven movies such as“Bridesmaids” and the “Hunger Games” and “Twilight” series, female representation in popular movies is at its lowest level in five years, according to a study being released Monday by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Among the 100 highest-grossing movies at the U.S. box office in 2012, the study reported, 28.4% of speaking characters were female. That’s a drop from 32.8% three years ago, and a number that has stayed relatively stagnant despite increased research attention to the topic and several high-profile box-office successes starring women.

When they are on-screen, 31.6% of women are shown wearing sexually revealing clothing, the highest percentage in the five years the USC researchers have been studying the issue.

For teen girls, the number who are provocatively dressed is even higher: 56.6% of teen girl characters in 2012 movies wore sexy clothes, an increase of 20% since 2009.

Full LA Times article here.

In The Round

tell it

The Hollywood Reporter holds actors roundtables a few times a year.  The participants change: sometimes women, sometimes men, comedians, over 40, under 40 etc.   The discussions are usually quite interesting and almost always shed some light on the process of acting.  It’s  eye-opening to hear those in the limelight share many of the same fears and frustrations as those of us hoping to make it there.   These particular roundtables are with the leading contenders for awards season this year.

Women:  http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/video/actresses-full-uncensored-interview-391620

Men: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/video/actors-full-uncensored-interview-387453

Interesting how readily the men admit how difficult the business is for women.   Hmmm.

Preparing for torture

As the agony and ecstasy of pilot season approaches, thought I’d post a link to this blogGuys are not going to want to f**k her  by Ken Levine.   Its a doozy.   It is hard to describe how sensational it is to be part of this biz  when things are going well.  You’ll just have to trust me….it truly does justify the lunacy we go through trying to get there.

We really are gluttons for punishment.

The Slow Boil

Glenn Close is a beast.  She devours scenes.  She eats dialogue for breakfast.   She leaves lesser actors in the dust.  She owns the work.   Whether she is playing the good guy or the bad guy, I am always rooting for her.   I love her.

Possibly my favorite of her performances was as Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil in Dangerous Liaisons.  I loved it so much, that the first monologue I learned at age 16 was her character’s calm description of creating herself in a culture that ‘only wanted me to sit still and do what I was told’.   Yes, this was ridiculous – as it was a entirely inappropriate monologue for my age….but it was so insanely delicious watching her on screen that I HAD to know the material.   Had to hear those words trip off my tongue.  If you haven’t seen the film – check it out.  You find costume drama’s boring? Give it a chance.  You will be delighted with how sexy, vicious, and riveting the story is.   It’s an intoxicating mixture of chess, porn and warfare.

I was feeling a bit dusty this week – frustrated with progress that feels nominal and effort that feels Herculean.   I was reminded that Glenn didn’t book her first on-screen role until she was 35.  In Hollywood that’s like saying she was 700…and had leprosy. It’s impossible.   But she did it.

Image

That really IS the question! Are you going to make it happen, be who you want to be, or not?   Time IS of the essence, but I breath a sign of relief that it isn’t as dire as we are told.   Hollywood makes you believe that if you haven’t headlined a film by the time you hit 22 (especially as a woman), you probably missed your chance. It’s nice to be reminded there are exceptions to the rule.   That passion, perseverance and skill can trump the status quo, skew the bell curve and beat the odds.

From the outside it feels like success comes roaring all at once…when usually it has been simmering for years.  While the media focuses on the kid who booked a huge role on their first audition and immediately launched into a full throttle career-  the greater truth is the ‘15 year overnight success’.   Job by Job, gig by gig, building a career over time.  Until that one special job arrives and your career goes from ‘Who’s that?’ to ‘That’s who!’ .

So, I still allow myself to want it all.  To believe in the possibility I can still have it.   I hope you give yourself that gift too – whatever your dream, your passion, your goal.  Fifteen year overnight success sounds great to me!

Image

I heard a quote once about Zach Galifianakis– it said, something to the effect of  “we are lucky he wasn’t his most successful when he was young, because his talent needed to ferment, to marinate and we are all the better for it”.   I get that.  I hope that is me. I’ve always been an ‘old soul’ and I know that has come across in my work.   I look younger than I am.   But I’ve always had a quality of maturity that is older than I am.  It’s a strange mix.  Perfect for some meaty roles- but not the generic young woman that is so often the role being cast.  I’m now reaching the point where it is all coalescing together.   A yummy soup of womanhood that I hope I can capitalize on.

I’ve always said I would rather be starting my career, have it continuing on the rise, than to realize the best is behind me.   That it would be more interesting to have a career full of dynamic women’s roles, rather than the empty roles of vapid college co-eds or muted girlfriends.   So I will keep pushing forward.

I ran into Kathryn Joosten several times over the years.  The final time was about two weeks before she passed away.    I didn’t know her well, but she was just as sweet, lovely and grounded as you expected her to be. I am inspired by her story of following her passion and living her dream.  I hope you are too.

Image

Age ain’t nothin’ but a number.  And Dreams aren’t just for the bright-eyed cherubs amongst us.   Life is short – you owe it to yourself to chase after what you most want.

No excuses:

Image

The Girl With The Tattoo Of My Face On Her Vaj

Fans.

What a luxury.  Having support (of any kind) in your life is such a privilege. Having support for your work from virtual strangers is like having a secret weapon.  It can be mind-blowing.   My experience of fans has run the gamut from spectacular to scary and sometimes, outright looney-tunes.  It is always a bit surreal.

One of the complicated realizations is despite how great your work may have been…the reason a fan becomes a fan may have nearly nothing to do with you.   It’s about how you made them feel about themselves.   How the story you helped tell affected their life.  How the character you played resonated with them, represented them, inspired them and supported them at a tough time.    It is both an incredibly intimate relationship, and entirely outside of you.

When I meet fans, they sometimes shake and cry and are unable to speak.  Sometimes they are enthusiastic, funny, sweet and are fantastic to talk to.  Sometimes they treat me like crap in what seems to be an effort to appear very cool.  (“ya, I want your autograph, but its not like I care, its for a friend, I’ve never seen your work, I actually think that show was stupid.” Did they also wear that Xena t-shirt and chakram necklace because of how much they hate the show??)

Sometimes they are insanely inappropriate:

Them:  Hey, can I take a picture with you?
Me: Sure
Them:  (being completely serious) Can you lift your shirt up and flash the camera?
Me:  Haha, no.
Them:  Uh.Ok, fine.
Photo is taken…they start walking away, I overhear them say ‘What a bitch’.

Yep. That’s me. The bitch who won’t flash her ta-ta’s for your cell phone cam shot.      Also the bitch that won’t kiss you, won’t give you her phone number/hotel room number or and won’t meet you later for a drink. Sorry, creepy dude. But I admire you had the guts to ask.

Image

Sometimes they transcend fan and become a personal lifelong friend.

Sometimes they are stalkers (Don’t even want to go into details, other than it SUCKS and is very scary.)

Sometimes they bring you super sweet gifts or make you amazing (or hilarious) art:

Image   Image   Image  Image  Image

Sometimes they stick their camera underneath the bathroom stall door to try to get a picture of you.   AAAAaaaaahhhhh.

Image

Sometimes when you are at your lowest point, and nearly ready to give up – they remind you that you are GOOD at what you are trying to do.   Or when you feel like your work is silly – they remind you what an impact it can have.

Image

Sometimes they send mail.  It comes in all shapes and sizes from sweet notes, to icky propositions to completely mistaking who you are and what you do.  (“Hi, I LOOOOOVED you as  Jenny on The L Word.”  Umm, I was never on The L Word.)

The relationship is a mystery. Amazing, and also completely strange.  Validating.  Disconcerting. A blessing.  I’d say 98% of the time its great.  I am appreciative of my fans every day.   I know it could all stop at any moment.  And in this new day and age where the industry is changing so fast – fans have more power than they’ve ever had before.   Power to get projects funded, get them on the air, get them publicity and attention they would otherwise miss.   The importance of the relationship can’t be denied.  {speaking of which, y’all feel free to pimp out my blog!}

It’s also a great lesson: Never underestimate the role you play for someone else.  Be careful with your words.   Be present with the people you are in the presence of.  Some of the smallest moments between people can be the most profound.  Even when your interaction seems small, it can have a remarkable effect on someone’s life.

Back to the headline.   So there I was at a personal appearance – making the rounds at a meet and greet.   I’m approaching a table of boisterous ladies when I spy a one of them with several sci-fi and fantasy characters prominently tattooed on her back and arms.   When I comment on them, several people at the table start egging her on to show me ‘the other one’.  After hemming and hawing bashfully for a minute, she decides to be brave and go for it.   I have no idea what to expect…maybe she has the Xena logo?  Maybe I ❤ Livia?   No….I wasn’t in the ballpark of what was about to happen.   She stands and to my horror and amusement starts unzipping her pants.  I start to look around nervously….umm, what is happening?   She pulled her pants down a few inches, then starts to also pull her undies down as well (wait, what!?) she pull them down far enough for me to see the top of the tattoo – my character Livia, MY eyes staring back at me from her crotch.  Yes, my face on her va-jay-jay, her kitty, her holy grail.   This is where I stopped her.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to know exactly what I/Livia was doing to her most delicate lady bits below the belt.   I didn’t want that image burned into my brain for all eternity.   Though for the record I’m sure Livia was thorough and talented 🙂  So… somewhere out there is a lovely girl walking this world with my face permanently stationed between her thighs…how supremely odd that I’m so intimately and forever connected to a virtual stranger.   Gotta love commitment like that!

No idea how you could top that one.   Fans…you are the bomb!

Image