Inclusion strategies have sprung up aplenty, but how to really move the needle? The organization’s trio take the next step by revealing how to activate Hollywood’s female networks: “I’m not interested in changing hearts and minds anymore.”
Since joining the USC faculty in 2003, Annenberg Inclusion Initiative founder Stacy Smith has published annual reports on the state of race and gender representation in Hollywood. Year after year, the shouts into the void had gone unheard. “For 15 years I was floundering,” Smith tells THR. “Then I found my people.”
Enter Brie Larson, 29, and Tessa Thompson, 35. The trio first met at an early Time’s Up meeting in 2017 at Larson’s house, where Smith broke out her trusty PowerPoint presentation. “When everything you’ve studied is finally delivered to the audience that it’s intended for, they’re able to take flight with the information in a whole new way,” says Smith. She and a group of actresses presented her statistics and strategy suggestions to leaders at UTA, which represents Frances McDormand, leading to the Oscar winner’s onstage declaration heard around the world: “inclusion rider.” It’s a concept first introduced in a 2014 THR op-ed by Smith, who developed the language with producer Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni and attorney Kalpana Kotagal.
Smith, Larson and Thompson also have been on the front lines of pushing for greater inclusion in media. It was an idea sparked at a Sundance gathering hosted by Thompson in January that led to, in June, Smith’s first study analyzing the gender, race and ethnicity of film critics; Larson used her Crystal + Lucy Awards acceptance speech to draw awareness to the issue. A database for studios and publicists, Critical, was launched with Time’s Up: “We have 400 critics on there already,” says the future Captain Marvel.
THR gathered the trio for a conversation about action beyond awareness and how to enforce the proposals put forward.
What was the significance of coming together for the first time?
BRIE LARSON Until we were having these meetings, most of us had never met one another, because there aren’t a ton of films that star that many women at once. Most of us had been dealing with these issues alone, not understanding that if we stood together, we had the leverage to actually get things done.
Candid Appearances > Candids From 2017 – March 08th – Arriving at the ABC studios for Jimmy Kimmel Live
Public Appearances > Events From 2017 – March 08th – ABC’s ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’
If Brie Larson could ask Kate Winslet and Rachel McAdams anything, what would it be? And what would Alicia Vikander want to ask Charlotte Rampling?
This year, as part of PEOPLE’s annual Oscar portfolio and video series, we asked this year’s incredible female acting nominees what they would want to ask one other if they had the chance.
Best Actress nominee Larson (Room) wants to know, “What’s most important?” Best Supporting Actress nominee Winslet (Steve Jobs) says, “One word: Family,” while fellow Best Supporting Actress McAdams (Spotlight) answers, “For me, what’s most important is being present. So you can be fully engaged with your work, with your relationships, whatever’s going on in life, so you can connect.”
For more from this year’s Oscar nominees – including exclusive portraits – pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
Meanwhile, Vikander, who is up for Best Supporting Actress for The Danish Girl asks, “What scares you?” A veteran of almost 100 films, Best Actress nominee Rampling (45 Years) offers, “Fear scares me. I go out and do things, usually very scared, but the fact you can dominate your fear and actually face your fears is the best thing you can do.”
Larson says, “The audition process used to. You have a bunch of people every day telling you what you are and what you’re not.”
The Hateful Eight Best Supporting Actress nominee Jennifer Jason Leigh wonders, “I’m always curious how they get to that emotional place. Every one of these actresses give incredible performances. And there’s always that point where something happens. It’s not always easy for me, so I like to hear how other people get there.”
Leigh adds, “In the moment when it’s hard for me, I will use whatever is from my life or what I can invent or think about that is even stuff that is very happy – hope will make me cry – but sometimes that doesn’t work. So I am very curious what these great women do.”
McAdams says, “I guess when I feel lost and I’m trying to find the character, I try to remind myself that’s a good thing. That often when I’ve been lost in the past, some of my most interesting work happens.”
Lastly, Winslet has a specific query for Best Actress nominee Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn): “I would probably ask Saoirse Ronan how it felt going back to some of those small towns she grew up in.”
Ronan’s reply was just as thoughtful as you would expect.
“To return home to shoot Brooklyn was very surreal,” she says. “Because I went back to a town that I hadn’t lived in for so long. My childhood and work never overlaps. For the two of them suddenly to collide was amazing.”
Brie Larson’s 20-Year Climb to Overnight Stardom: I’m “Totally Out of My Comfort Zone”
The Oscar nominee is Hollywood’s fastest-rising actress since Jennifer Lawrence. Now, the intensely private star of ‘Room’ — whose breakout role drew interest from Emma Watson and Rooney Mara — is leaping from a $5 million budget movie to a $125 million one (‘Kong: Skull Island’).
The morning after picking up the Breakthrough Performance Award at the 27th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, Brie Larson rolls up to a Studio City eatery in a shiny black chauffeur-driven SUV. Nobody on the sidewalk outside the bustling diner appears particularly starstruck by the 26-year-old actress in ripped Levis and gray sweater — or even seems to recognize her. But Larson is in a playful mood. As she approaches her breakfast companion, she hikes her nubbly pink coat over her head and jokes — with faux drama-queen theatrics — “Please, no photos!” Actually, being swarmed by paparazzi outside a restaurant isn’t so far-fetched a scenario for the brand-new Oscar nominee, who these days is undergoing that sometimes-awkward transformation from struggling young actress (playing supporting roles in films like 21 Jump Street and Trainwreck) to Hollywood’s favorite new thing. Ever since her much buzzed-about performance in Room, the Lenny Abrahamson drama about a young mother and son held captive in a shed for seven years, the star has been caught up in an awards-season lovefest, spending the past eight weeks shuttling from junket interviews to film festivals to awards shows — like the Golden Globes, where she won best actress in a drama — to her real job, which, at the moment, is a grueling jungle shoot for Kong: Skull Island, her first lead in a tentpole (Universal and Legendary are spending north of $125 million on it). Although Room, a tiny $12 million indie distributed by newcomer A24 Films, hasn’t caught fire at the box office (it has grossed $5 million since its Oct. 16 release, about what Kong is spending on banana bills), Larson’s raw, stripped-down performance has struck a chord, making her Hollywood’s newest “It” girl.
“More and more, my life is going in a direction that is not universal; there’s only a very small group of people who understand,” says Larson, photographed Dec. 20 at Siren Orange Studio in Los Angeles.
Brie Larson had a simple, but very real initial reaction when she heard her named being announced for an Oscar nomination for work in Room.
“I thought, ‘Holy s–t!'” she said, adding, “It’s that mixed with a total flat line.”
She actually had just gotten home from a long day of work filming Kong: Skull Island in Australia.
“It was a very physical day, a lot of climbing. I just climbed mountains all day today in the hot Australian sun so I was just exhausted,” said Larson, 26. “So I was tired so I thought this is the perfect way to do it while your body is just really exhausted and you’re kind of relaxed about it.
“I didn’t realize how strong my reaction would be,” she continued. “My whole body was shaking. I started crying. It really was when they gave [Lenny Abrahamson] a best director nomination that I really lost it. He’s so deserving of it. So well deserved and so exciting to see.”
Room follows the journey of a young woman (Larson) who has been held captive in a shed for several years with her five-year-old son (Jacob Tremblay).
Larson’s Kong co-stars, which include Samuel L. Jackson and Tom Hiddleston, were ready to help her celebrate as soon as the noms were announced. “I’m on a giant text chain with all the actors from the movie,” she said. “There are like 14 of us on it and they all just flooded my phone and they said they were going to bang down my door with champagne. But it’s 12:15 a.m. and I have to get up for work in the morning so it just doesn’t seem reasonable to me. We’ll do champagne another day.”
Lots of bubbly will be flowing when the Oscars are handed out on Sunday, Feb. 28, at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood and will be televised live on ABC at 7 p.m. ET. Chris Rock is set to host for the second time.
On Sunday, Larson picked up a Golden Globe for her work in Room.
After the show, she recorded an Instagram video for the Globes. “My favorite moment was after I went back to my table after winning a Golden Globe, Katy Perry had a round of In-N-Out burgers for everybody,” she revealed. “Hot and fresh!”
Larson told me after the Globe nominations were announced that she’s “super into” jigsaw puzzles.
“They help me stay relaxed,” she said.
Source: E! Online