In a recent interview with Haute Living, Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain had some interesting comments to make about feminism, women supporting women and more. For some reason, the rumour mill decided in recent times that Chastain had some sort of beef with fellow Oscars golden girl Jennifer Lawrence, but when asked about her thoughts on Lawrence’s pay-gap essay (we doubt there’s an interview with a female celebrity in which they don’t get asked for their opinion on this, and that’s wonderul) Chastain was full of love and support; Lawrence has started a conversation and it’s one that many would find hard to broach. Here’s some of what she had to say:
“It was incredible. I loved her op-ed… and I was really disappointed after she wrote it that she got criticism. Sometimes people have that attitude where, ‘You’re an actress making a lot of money, how dare you complain?’ We’ve kind of been programmed to be grateful that we’ve gotten this job, so don’t rock the boat. I don’t think that’s fair. Jennifer Lawrence coming out and saying that was really important.”
Chastain’s comments about being grateful as women for finding ourselves in a favourable position will no doubt ring true with not just fellow actors but all women tackling the career ladder and the difficulty we have in measuring our worth and shouting about it too. How often have you felt as though you were genetically programmed to think you should just keep the head down and be grateful for what you have? It’s not genetics, it’s social and cultural conditioning, and we need more women like Chastain speaking out about it.
On how importance it is to strive for gender equality in the movie industry, Chastain says: “The more that people communicate about the problems that we have, the better it’s going to be. That’s how change happens; you can feel it percolating. You look at the Best Picture nominees from last year, and there was not one that had a female protagonist. That is so upsetting to me, because that means that every picture that they deemed worthy of a nomination was from a male point of view. This year, there are four of the seven that have female protagonists. I do think that the industry itself wants to change— we want diversity—and I think it had just gotten stagnant. I think the more that we shake it up, it will make a difference. I’m starting to see it.”
On her most recent role in The Zookeeper’s Wife, Chastain said: “It was the first time I had been on set with so many women. If you’re one of the only women on a set—if it’s you and a bunch of men—you feel like your value doesn’t come from your thoughts and your talent and what you say: your value comes from how you look and how you’re perceived by the men around you.”
Wary that such comments may be taken out of context and framed in the extreme, Chastain quickly tells Haute Living: “I’m not saying that you should have a film set where it’s predominantly women, I’m just saying when you have more women and you have more balance in a situation, it’s going to be a healthier experience.”
“I’ve always been interested in creating diversity in cinema,” she says of her decision to join the advisory board of WDIT. “I started a production company—all female led, actually, called Freckle Films. We Do It Together contacted me a while ago and asked if I would be on the board of advisors, and I said absolutely because I think it’s an incredible non-profit organization.”
Jessica Chastain; another woman we’d love to share a whiskey sour with if we ever had the chance.
Read the full interview here.