'The OA's Brit Marling's Response To The Lack Of Complex Roles For Women In Hollywood Will Spur You Into Action
You've probably admired what she puts out into the world via her acting on the hot new Netflix show, but, thanks to The OA's Brit Marling commenting on the lack of roles for women, you'll now be able to admire the ideas that live inside her head as well. It's always such a delight to me when people who are absurdly talented in one area are also intelligent and well-spoken, with compelling ideas about their craft. Marling's recent interview with People gave me all of that in spades.
Hopefully you already know this, but the actress doesn't just star as Prairie in the sci-fi and mystery hybrid; she's also the show's co-creator, alongside Zal Batmanglij. It sounds like Marling had the experience many of us do on a daily basis, of looking out into the entertainment world and seeing very few layered, intentional roles for women.
You sometimes think that we’re farther along than we actually are. When you read that less than 10 percent of directors are women, you realize it can’t be surprising that, in most stories, women characters are constructed as an afterthought; they’re not fully realized, not the ones with agency.
It's a familiar sensation, made more disappointing by how prevalent it still is in 2017. But her reaction wasn't to get bummed out; it was to get more thoughtful about the roles she herself took on.
I came close to playing parts where I felt, ‘If I had a daughter, would I be proud of the representation of a woman she’d be watching?' Because you want to begin getting work as an actress and think, ‘This is what I have to do in order to [make it in the industry]’...
She wasn't going to contribute to the glut of two-dimensional, forgettable female characters out there. She was going to get more thoughtful about the work that she put out in the world. That, and write her own damn content: "That’s the point where I thought: ‘The only way I’m going to be able to navigate what feels right is if I figure out how to tell stories.'" That's also the part of the interview where I got super inspired, because it's something you hear a lot, but don't get to see put into action all that often.
If you're a woman in today's world, whether in the entertainment industry or somewhere else where men vastly outnumber women, you've likely heard some version of "well, if you don't like it, do your own thing." I understand the sentiment, but it did always feel a bit like a dismissal; if you aren't getting what you want or being accepted by this community or that industry, then the responsibility is not on them to be more inclusive, but on you to... what? Suck it up or leave? I was never quite sure how to feel about it, but seeing what Marling has done with her career is a missing piece of the puzzle: it's about your individual voice.
She wasn't fitting in in her chosen industry, not because she wasn't up to its standards, but because it wasn't up to her standards. So she went out there, got herself a new set of skills to be able to convey her thoughts and feelings onto the page, and upped the ante. And, honestly, that's what we all should be doing, myself included. It's hard not to see it as a criticism when we don't see ourselves reflected in pop culture — especially because oftentimes, it is one — but if you can find a way to push through that and make your voice heard, you'll make the industry come to you, and start trying to meet the bar you raised. We don't have to suck it up. We have to be the change that we want to see.
It's an inspiring lesson from an industry powerhouse, and I can't wait to see where Brit Marling's insight, tenacity, and talent take her next.