October 12, 2019 • Category: Career, Times Up •
Comments Off on Meaningful Change at Last? Women Gain Ground in Hollywood
Meaningful Change at Last? Women Gain Ground in Hollywood
Women in Hollywood are finally starting to exhale. Two years after sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein first broke, turbocharging the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, there’s a growing sense among women in showbiz that meaningful change is underway — though much remains to be done before true parity is reached.
“There have been some good inroads,” says Donna Langley, chairman, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, whose studio was the first major to sign on to USC Annenberg Inclusion Institute and Time’s Up’s 4% Challenge for female directors in January. “It’s never going to feel like it’s enough. It’s never going to be enough — this is work that is going to be ongoing.”
Langley’s views were echoed by other women surveyed by Variety for its annual Women’s Impact Report. They reported increased opportunity behind and in front of the camera.
“I think we’ve made an incredible amount of progress just by opening up the conversation,” says Reese Witherspoon. She was so frustrated about the lack of substantial roles for women that she founded Hello Sunshine, a media company dedicated to female storytelling, three years ago. She is now producing and starring in some of the projects in its pipeline, including Apple TV Plus’ “The Morning Show” opposite Jennifer Aniston.
“Female directors are working so much, and it’s enormously encouraging,” she says. What’s more, their authority is better respected on set and elsewhere. “I used to work with female directors and people would just talk over them,” but now “there’s a real consciousness to listening to women that was never here before.”
To promote the November premiere of The Morning Show, Reese can be seen on the cover of the new issue of Harper’s Bazaar magazine! The magazine features a brand new photoshoot themed around ‘facing your fears’, and Natalie Portman interviews Reese about The Morning Show and some of her other upcoming producing work. In the behind the scenes video, Reese talks about her favourite books, including Wild. Find all the content within this post!
From boldly addressing the nuances of #MeToo on her new Apple TV+ drama, The Morning Show, to canoodling with a five-foot python for BAZAAR, the 43-year-old actress and producer takes risks without even wobbling in her stilettos. Friend Natalie Portman talked to the star about how she makes it all look so easy.
NATALIE PORTMAN: Hi! I’m so happy to talk to you for Harper’s BAZAAR’s Daring issue. Was it scary to be shot with a spider on your face?
REESE WITHERSPOON: The spider didn’t scare me, but there was a snake at the photo shoot that did. This is going to sound weird, but I like insects and spiders. I was kind of a tomboy growing up. It grosses everybody out, but I like to pick up bugs.
NP: What, if anything, are you actually afraid of?
RW: I get scared of being on really tall buildings and looking down.
NP: And you did that too for your Bazaar shoot! I’m impressed. Speaking of impressed, I watched the first three episodes of The Morning Show last night. It’s wonderful!
Reese and Jennifer Aniston are featured on the cover of the October issue of Entertainment Weekly, to promote their upcoming series The Morning Show! The two are photographed in character for the issue, and the interview reveals the real-life inspiration behind the series and tells us more about the characters. Read the interview below or on Entertainment Weekly, and find the cover and photoshoot in high quality in our Gallery. We’ll have scans for you when the issue is available.
Stream Queens: Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon on their TV reunion and how The Morning Show changed after #MeToo
Reese Witherspoon isn’t about to cause a scene. But she is freaking out a little bit. “Diane Sawyer came to visit and oh my God, it was amazing!” Sitting in a Los Angeles restaurant on a balmy August evening, the Academy Award winner throws her hands over her face to muffle her excitement. (There will be no Elle Woods-esque squeal here.) She’s recalling the day that the legendary broadcast journalist stopped by the set of her upcoming series with Jennifer Aniston, The Morning Show (Nov. 1). Her face still in her hands, Witherspoon continues in disbelief: “She sat at the monitor and watched me and Jen read the news!” The pair have come a long way since trading barbs at Central Perk.
The Morning Show — which marks Aniston’s major return to TV after Friends ended in 2004, and the pair’s first project together since Witherspoon guest-starred on the NBC comedy as Rachel’s spoiled little sister Jill in 2000 — takes viewers inside the world of daybreak news. “There’s something sort of bulletproof about morning shows,” Witherspoon says. “They’re a stalwart part of American culture.” After all, every day millions of Americans wake up and turn on the Today show, or any number of other programs, and are greeted by familiar faces they trust to deliver the news with just the right amount of personality. At least that’s the expectation. As you brew your morning coffee, they update you on the latest from the White House. As you pick out your clothes for the day, they let you know how the weather is looking. And as you prepare to head out the door, they amuse you with fun anecdotes about the internet’s buzziest viral video. “These shows are some of the last programming in the country that still tries to appeal in Los Angeles and New York and Des Moines and Mississippi,” says Morning Show executive producer Michael Ellenberg. “You have to introduce an idea of what America is that works for blue states and red states.” It was Ellenberg who brought the idea for The Morning Show to Witherspoon, whom he worked with on Big Little Lies, and Aniston in late 2016. (“I said to him, ‘I’m not completely closed down to television because it’s been pretty good,’” Aniston recalls.)
He can trace the idea back to 1989, when he saw Jane Pauley get replaced on Today. (It’s widely believed to be because she was “too old.” She was 39 at the time.) Then in 2012, Today’s veteran newsreader Ann Curry was reportedly driven off the program after less than a year as a cohost, a subject explored in journalist Brian Stelter’s 2013 book Top of the Morning, which Ellenberg quickly optioned. (Stelter is a consulting producer on the show, which uses his book mostly for background research.) “These are some of the most powerful women in America, and we watched them get screwed publicly, basically,” Ellenberg says. Witherspoon adds: “I was astounded by how honest a lot of female anchors were with myself and Jen. I think most people would find it shocking that women in that position, of what we perceive as power, are looked at as expendable.”
Reese is featured in ‘This Changes Everything’, a new documentary about the under-representation of women in media from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. She is interviewed within the documentary, to talk about how she “started developing these projects with smart, articulate capable women” due to the lack of projects for women. The documentary will be shown on July 22nd in New York and California – find more information at the official site. Watch the trailer below (although Reese is not featured in it):
Told first-hand by some of Hollywood’s leading voices behind and in front of the camera, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING is a feature-length documentary that uncover what is beneath one of the most confounding dilemmas in the entertainment industry – the underrepresentation and misrepresentation of women. It takes an incisive look at the history, empirical evidence, and systemic forces that foster gender discrimination and thus reinforce disparity in our culture. Most importantly, the film seeks pathways and solutions from within and outside the industry, and around the world.
On Tuesday, Reese made an appearance on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah to promote Big Little Lies. She chatted about the show, working with Meryl Streep, her work in developing the roles for women in film & TV, her passion for developing books into TV/films, and Times Up. Reese looks so proud talking about her work! She wore a black Roland Mouret dress, with Mizuki earrings, and a Celine purse and sunglasses outside the studios. Unfortunately I can’t find a video clip online (if anyone has, let us know!), but we have screencaptures, stills and photos of her arriving at the studios.
The 5 (original) ladies of Big Little Lies – Reese, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz and Shailene Woodley – are gracing their own covers of the US edition of In Style magazine this month! Each lady has their own cover, and inside the magazine has a new interview and photoshoot with each of them. Reese talks about ambition, female leadership, and her friendships with her Big Little Lies co-stars, and the accompanying photoshoot is a throw-back to the 60’s!
The magazine hits news-stands on May 17th (2 weeks away!), but you can read the interviews below and find the photos in our Gallery:
The 5 Stars of Big Little Lies Have a Lot to Say — About Each Other
Guess which actress is the most “rigorous,” who’s a “ninja,” and who reliably keeps “old-lady candies” in her purse.
Big Little Lies is a Very Big Deal. It is an epic, insanely entertaining, tremendously acted hit. It features an ensemble of women, from longtime movie stars to burning younger talents who are each Big Deals on their own (oh, and coming up in Season 2, Meryl Streep). But it represents more than that. It is, frankly, a triumph for the ladies. BLL is great work done by great women, with respect and craft, the conscious sharing of opportunity, and, most significantly, very real friendships.
The lives of the cast — Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, and Zoë Kravitz — have overlapped in myriad ways. Nicole and Reese have a production partnership (Big Little Lies is their brainchild). Reese starred with Laura in Wild. Laura starred with Shailene in The Fault in Our Stars. Shailene starred with Zoë in Divergent. Nicole has known Zoë since she dated her father, Lenny Kravitz, 16 years ago. And so it goes. These women’s relationships run much deeper than “ensemble cast”; rather, they have influenced and enriched each other’s lives.
Reese Witherspoon On Fighting For Gender Equality With Elizabeth Arden
Reese Witherspoon is no stranger to fighting for a cause, especially when it comes to women. The actor, producer and entrepreneur is also a co-founder of Time’s Up, so as the Storyteller-in-Chief of Elizabeth Arden, she’s a perfect fit for the beauty brand that is also a champion of women. In 1912 Elizabeth Arden marched down Fifth Avenue for women’s equality and gave out red lipstick to suffragettes as a symbol of solidarity. Now, their new limited edition lipstick in Pink Punch is continuing that legacy to unite women. For Elizabeth Arden’s March On campaign, 100% of proceeds of the lipstick will go to UN Women, a nonprofit dedicated to gender equality and empowering women around the globe. Witherspoon tells us all about it.
What does being Elizabeth Arden’s Storyteller-in-Chief entail? Working with the brand, I tell stories around the product on Instagram, in the community, talking about work here and things that women are interested in, whether that’s products and skincare or how to get ready for big events. Also, championing Elizabeth Arden and the story of her company. She was always a fierce advocate for women’s rights. It’s a really nice partnership because we have so many similarities.
What are a few of the similarities you share with her? I’ve definitely started my own businesses. I’ve worked really hard to advocate for seeing more women onscreen and I think Elizabeth Arden really advocated for women to feel beautiful and part of that is being seen, you know? (She fought for) the importance of women’s roles in our cultures, in our world, and she was doing that way before I was ever around.
What are your go-to Elizabeth Arden products? I tried the Retinol Ceramide Capsules about a year ago and I noticed a real difference in my skin. It evened out my skin tone. I feel like I have a different texture, so that’s become part of my daily routine. I’m really enjoying their new White Tea Fragrances. The Vanilla Orchid is my favorite. It just pulls you together and makes you ready for your day. I really love fragrance.
Reese graces the cover of the new February issue of US Vogue! The magazine features a story on her as the “moral compass of Hollywood” (which is a great title for her!), and features an extensive new interview and a new photoshoot – including a photo with Betty and Ava. It’s a fantastic article exploring how Reese’s career has developed, and focuses mostly on her recent move into production and business; there are also some great quotes from Cheryl Strayed, Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep. I also liked reading about where her Oscar is, and that she has hardbound copies of scripts from her movies!
Read the full article below, and find high quality photos from the cover and the shoot in our Gallery. We’ll have scans for you soon. Make sure you pick up a copy when you can!
Reese Witherspoon: Activist, Advocate, Hollywood’s Moral Compass
The first time Reese Witherspoon found herself suspended from school was in third grade, when she was caught running a custom-barrette business from her desk. (She painted store-bought barrettes and sold them at a profit; when her paint pens leaked onto her desk, she was apprehended.) Another time was during her junior year, at a private girls’ high school in Nashville, when she complained to her English teacher that the work they were doing wasn’t challenging enough. Witherspoon was in many ways a model student—good grades, popular, a soccer player and cheerleader—but she also had a reputation for telling teachers what they were doing was wrong.
“I always tended to be outspoken with my opinions,” she says. “Whether they were appropriate or not.”
More than two decades later, Witherspoon is still fighting the status quo. Insofar as Hollywood is an extreme version of high school, a fishbowl of fragile egos, insecurity, and often-misdirected sexual energy, she has taken it upon herself to be a champion of the overlooked and the underestimated. She may still bear the imprint of the perky-blonde roles that kept her in American-sweetheart mode for the better part of two decades, but something’s changed beneath the surface. Witherspoon has become a formidable businesswoman, launching a company that has a hand in just about every imaginable sector of contemporary media, and she’s become a formidable activist as well, fighting for greater representation in Hollywood of people of color, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and—most of all—women.
“The idea is to put women at the center of the story,” Witherspoon says, sitting barefoot and in jeans in the kitchen of her sunny, sprawling Los Angeles home as her three dogs—a German shepherd named Nash (short for Nashville), a French bulldog named Pepper, and a lab named Hank—amble and snort among the rooms. “I was sick of making movies where I was the only female lead on the set. I was sick of seeing scripts where there was one female role, badly written, and yet every actress in town wanted the part because there was nothing else.”
There is perhaps no greater example in the history of television of putting women at the center than Big Little Lies, the HBO sensation that picked up eight Emmys in 2017. Witherspoon executive-produced the series with Nicole Kidman, with whom she also stars alongside Laura Dern, Zoë Kravitz, and Shailene Woodley. In the second season, which airs in late spring, Meryl Streep will bring the show’s number of female leads to six.
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