OITNB Actress Natasha Lyonne On Why Women In Hollywood Need To Start Their Own “Boys Club”

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If you, like us, are dying to watch the next season of ‘Orange Is The New Black’ and have already done copious amounts of binge-watching on Netflix, then have no fear, we’ve got you covered in the meantime. Actress Natasha Lyonne, who plays Nicky Nichols, has made sure to keep fans and critics happy by working on other projects between seasons.

Her latest film ‘Antibirth’, is a comedy/horror/fantasy flick about a woman named Lou (played by Natasha) whose hard-partying ways with her best friend come to a screeching halt when she discovers she is pregnant. Chloe Sevigny plays Lou’s best friend, and the film debuted at the recent Sundance Film Festival in January where the two actresses spoke to the media about this twisted take on the “accidentally pregnant and don’t know what to do” trope.

In an interview with Bustle, the duo talked about more than just ‘Antibirth’ and their characters, they also shared their views on the current state of women pushing through gender barriers in Hollywood.

Writer Rachel Simon expressed how shocked she was, that when she asked the two women whether they feel the movement of female films, filmakers and stories infiltrating Hollywood along with added awareness about the need to close various gender gaps, they both said “no”.

Chloe admits there is definitely a change happening, but it’s still very small at this stage.

“The scripts coming my way, they are all male-driven, for the most part. People are like, oh my god, I can’t believe they’re only asking the girls about their dresses. But it’s like, oh my god, I can’t believe we’re only having this conversation now,” she said.

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This is an important point to address, within an issue that is not solved now that there is more awareness. It is only the beginning of determining what kind of change will come about.

Natasha says the old adage of the “boys club” in Hollywood is what women have finally wised up to, acknowledging how it has hindered woman in a number of ways.

“I feel it shifting a little. We’ve all wised up and caught on that the idea of competition between women is really one that’s brought on by advertising, by the male society… we’ve decided ‘hey, how about this idea of us all being comrades in this thing and supporting each other and moving each other to be our best?” she said.

Her idea of combating the sexism is for women to start their own collective where they unashamedly promote and hire each other.

“That’s really the definition of a boys club. They help each other out like, ‘hey man, I think I’ve got a great idea for you.’ And I think that now, that’s really starting to happen within us as women. We’re really starting to feel like f*ck that, we’re the boys club, you know?” she said.

It’s an idea that many filmmakers, writers, directors and actresses recognize needs to happen more. Geena Davis, as part of her Institute on Gender in Media, often talks about the conscious decision-making by filmmakers to ensure gender equality. It’s also something we have seen Shonda Rhimes do with every single one of her shows, using her position of power in Hollywood to cast as diversely as possible.

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However, along with the need to include more women in every aspect of Hollywood in a more equal manner, Natasha says this needs to be done in a way so that the gender classification description no longer becomes a requirement.

“The very idea that we’re talking about stuff as being female is exactly the lame part of this whole situation. Like hey, you know, this is the f*cking show. This is the movie, the director, the producer… it’s just very weird, and it seems very outdated,” she said. Yep, we agree.

Chloe believes doing this will help eliminate double standards, such as a woman speaking assertively being called “bossy”, but a man doing the same being labeled “authoritarian”, for example.

“Men can get away with it because they’re narcissistic. Women are just like, ‘oh she’s batsh*t crazy.’ I feel like that’s why a lot of female filmmakers then have a hard time maintaining. I can list off the ones that I’ve heard things, ones that have been fired from shows, or just not hired… You can’t be a female auteur,” she said.

If you are interested in finding out some of the things being said to female filmmakers, spend a bit of time perusing the ‘Sh*t People Say To Women Directors‘ Tumblr account.

From a specific Hollywood point of view, Natasha perfectly explains the difference/double standards that help men, but hinder women.

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“The flawed piece-of-sh*t first time movies that a lot of these guys make and then they get to go on to make these huge second things… with women, it’s just like ‘well, I’ll give the movie two stars and make sure they never work again’,” she boldly said.

For an example of the “boys club” mentality, and how much easier it often is for male directors than female directors, you should read this insightful story ‘Selma’ director Ava DuVernay shared. A few years ago, both her and a friend, director Colin Trevorrow, were both at Sundance showing independent films they had made. As they were talking, Ava mentioned she had been asked to direct ‘Selma’, which had a $3 million budget. Colin’s next project? ‘Jurassic World’, a $30 million budget film. He is also slated to direct one of the upcoming ‘Star Wars’ movies. Ava’s next major project is the Oprah Winfrey Network series ‘Queen Sugar’, which will be directed only by women (there’s one of those conscious decisions in action).

It’s time for the new era of the “boys club”, where women are not excluded, and are no longer classified according to gender. If Hollywood can achieve this, we think it will have a major impact on other creative industries.

In the meantime, just to give you an idea of the crap women in the film and TV industry still have to put up with, take a look at this interview with Natasha and her OITNB co-stars Uzo Aduba and Samira Wiley where Natasha shuts down a sexist reporter’s questions in an epic manner:


 

 

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