As I do every year, I watched the Golden Globes. This year was a bit different for me.
For the last few months I’ve been giving talks and doing massive research on females in Hollywood. So, with those new eyes, I saw an award show about the best in film and television as determined by the Hollywood Foreign Press.
I loved that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler talked about it being a great year for women in film and television. They set a great tone for the show that showed women are funny, entertaining and insightful.
Then, Lena Dunham (Girls) won. She said “This award is for every woman who didn’t think there was a space for her. I found my space.”
When I finally had the courage to say to someone, “I want to be a director,” I was told that I couldn’t because directors are 40-50 year old men.
I was told consistently that directing was not for women. I can relate to Dunham about thinking there is no space for me.
Being a woman in Hollywood is tough enough. Not being a size 0 is even tougher. Add to that being unique, quirky and wonderfully awkward and your looking at odds near impossible – unless you’re a dude. Jonah Hill, Zack Galifianakis… I can go on.
Dunham has carved out a space for herself and I’m so grateful. She’s an inspiration.
Soon after Dunham, Jodie Foster received the Cecile B. Demille Lifetime Achievement Award. She said, “I want to be seen, to be understood deeply, and to be not so very lonely.”
That’s what stuck with me. That’s what I connected with. That’s what moved me.
Foster has been in films since she was 3. For 47 years her name has made headlines whether it’s her new project or her connection to a failed assassination attempt on a president. Her life was/is very much public, any public miss-step and the media would be all over it. Yet somehow, she raised a modern family with her partner and kept it out of the public eye. I say good for her. I also think that had to be hard.
Imagine trying to keep secret something as big as your family or the love of your life. Imagine knowing the power of your celebrity to bring attention to causes close to your heart like LGTB issues but scared to as possible media backlash might ensue and put your family on the front page.
Secrets keep you guarded. Secrets make you weary of people. Secrets can make you lonely.
Honestly, Fosters sexuality is none of the public’s business. She didn’t have to tell us but I’m glad she did. I imagine at least one woman struggling with her own sexuality and seeing Foster’s courage being the catalyst to stop feeling so lonely. That’s what makes a statement powerful.
Jessica Chastain won for Zero Dark Thirty and in her acceptance speech she said to her director Kathyn Bigelow “you’ve done more for women in cinema than you take credit for.”
Imagine for a moment being Bigelow. Only 4 women have been nominated for Best Director for the Academy Awards. She’s the only one that has won in that category. Imagine the pressure on your next project: females want to see if she does them justice and men want to know if she can do it again and wasn’t just a sympathy vote. This has nothing to do with her abilities as a director also it’s nothing she can control. People are going to think of her what they think of her no matter what she does.
The last thing she can do is stand on a imaginary pulpit and say “i inspired more women to direct.” That’s just asking to be a bigger media target than she already is.
Bigelow, Dunham and Foster have all been targets of wicked backlash that have nothing to do with their talent and work. All three have been called out that they “are not that pretty” or sectioned out for what they wore to an event as if it has anything to do with their sexuality. Or in Bigelow’s case Bret Easton Ellis wrote “Kathryn Bigelow would be considered a mildly interesting filmmaker if she was a man. But since she’s a very hot woman she’s really overrated.”
These three women were showcased along with 2011’s best and brightest in Hollywood for one awards night. I saw a full circle journey of finding your space, being humble about taking any credit or criticism, and how being in the public eye can make you very lonely.
I support these women and countless others. We’re all just trying to tell stories, entertain and encourage others (regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation). We all deserve a safe space in this world. Let’s work together to find it.