Female Stars Still Face Sexist Interview Questions, but These Actresses Aren't Having It
There may be more bold and complex female characters on screen than ever before, but when it's time to promote their work plenty of actresses have found that media coverage pegged to their roles have not followed suit. This summer was no exception: plenty of intelligent, well-spoken actresses found themselves fielding weird or even demeaning questions and sexist stereotypes.
Luckily, many stars are refusing to let this treatment go without comment. Here are just four recent instances of badass actresses taking their sexist interviewers to task.
Although Schumer wrote and starred in the recently released Trainwreck, a Kiis interviewer in Australia wanted to focus on Schumer's appearance in the film rather than her substantive creative contributions to it.
"Do you have the word 'skanky' in America?" radio announcer Matt Tilley asked Schumer, referencing her character's revealing clothes.
"We do have that word," Schumer responded. Then: "That's a rude question."
When Tilley asserted Schumer's character feels "being with a guy eclipses everything else," Schumer quickly rejected the idea.
"I think you're wrong," the actress countered.
The only thing with which Schumer agreed? Tilley's co-interviewer, fellow radio announcer Jane Hall, who said she'd interview the comedian solo next time.
"I love that idea," Schumer concurred.
"I never read the book, or the script. I kind of winged it," she sarcastically responded when asked if she read the novel the film was based on.
Did Delevigne have anything in common with her character? "No, I actually hate her," she dryly quipped.
John Green, the author of the novel Paper Towns, came to Delevingne's defense in a Medium post soon after the incident. "[Cara] refuses to stick to the script," Green wrote wrote. "She refuses to indulge lazy questions and refuses to turn herself into an automaton to get through long days of junketry. I don't find that behavior entitled or haughty. I find it admirable. Cara Delevingne doesn't exist to feed your narrative or your news feed? — ?and that's precisely why she's so fucking interesting."
Natasha Lyonne and Samira Wiley
The first thing Brazilian comedian Rafael Cortez notes in his interview with Orange Is the New Black stars Natasha Lyonne and Samira Wiley is that they are both beautiful (no argument here!). He then circuitously asks if the actresses find it difficult to work on "those days" — assumedly, when cast members are menstruating — because they may start to be "angry" or "furious."
"I think there are some like stereotypes, maybe, that women are very catty on set with each other," Wiley said. "But that doesn't really happen on our set."
Lyonne, however, more directly nailed Cortez's sexist question.
"I feel like it's accidentally maybe a little bit misogynistic. ... It's like 'You're so beautiful, what's it like having to do all that acting?'"
But, thankfully, Lyonne settled his confusion once and for all.
"Despite the great beauty on the show," she said, "everybody is professional and talented and very capable, so I don't think that really anybody is thinking about something as meaningless as their beauty when they're at work, or certainly not at this show."
She might play a character best known for her strength and courage in the upcoming film Fantastic Four, but Kate Mara was only regarded as notable for her appearance in a recent interview.
"This is a great interview," Mara sarcastically countered. "I cut my hair for a movie I just did," she said, re-focusing the conversation on her work and commitment to it. "I'm an actress. I have to be a chameleon."
Ask her more: They may take the form of a simple quip or sarcastic comment, but skewering these sexist questions is crucial in an industry still riddled with sexism. These actresses are pushing back on the belittling assumption that that their appearance is more valuable than their substance, which informs the vast underrepresentation and objectification evident in their field at large. Only 27% of prime-time TV creators, writers, producers, executive producers, photography directors and editors (people making major creative decisions, basically) were female during the 2013-2014 season, the Women's Media Center reported. Actresses hardly faired better, representing only 12% of on-screen protagonists and 30% of characters with speaking parts, according to the same study.
Hopefully these actresses will lead by example and encourage not only other actresses to refuse to tolerate sexist questions, but force reporters — and their industry at large — to regard Hollywood's women and their work with the respect they deserve.