Mazzy walked into the living room last night while we were watching the Golden Globes (she was supposed to be sleeping) and immediately asked, “Why is everyone wearing black?”
There are numerous reasons obviously but my daughter is eight so I told her the one that was age appropriate. “It’s because they are all taking a stand against women being paid less than men for doing the same jobs.”
She nodded. She knows about how women often have to work harder than men to get to the same place. She wanted to stay up and watch. “Mommy! I’m interested!” She kept saying. But the next morning was her first day back at school and she needed her sleep. I told her I’d record it and insisted she go back to bed.
Then she walked out a little bit later in the middle of Oprah’s speech. “Who’s that?” she asked.
“That’s Oprah. She is one of the most famous and influential people in the world.”
She stood there with her mouth agape for a few moments and then went back to her room without asking more questions.
Later that night, Natalie Portman made her controversial comment about the director category being filled with all male nominees. Mazzy was fast asleep by then but Mike had a question. “Were there any female directors that should have been acknowledged this year?”
“Well, Ladybird just took home Best Actress and Best Movie, so I think it stands to reason that Greta Gerwig should have been up for Best Director.”
A little more research told me that many people felt Patty Jenkins should have been nominated for Wonder Woman and that Dee Rees deserved a nod for Mudbound too.
I know there has been both positive and negative response to Natalie saying what she said when she said it. It was indeed more disruptive than everyone in the room wearing black to an award ceremony. It made all the nominated men clearly uncomfortable. But you know what? Sometimes an uncomfortable disruption is needed in order to be heard and really make a difference. Would I have researched which women deserved to be acknowledged in the director category if that hadn’t happened? Would Mike have asked the question?
The answer is no.
When I was little, I wanted to be an actress. I performed on stage from the time I was in 2nd grade. I loved watching the awards ceremonies when I was a kid and dreamed of being one of those beautiful women claiming the Best Actress statuette.
In 7th grade, I remember meeting with an agent in NYC that had been arranged through my acting teacher. My mom and I sat across from him in his office. He said to my mother, right in front of me, “Well, she’s not the prettiest girl in the world but she is not the ugliest either. It helps to be one or the other.” This was before I had said one word, let alone read the monologue I had been told to prepare.
I’m not sure what impact that meeting had on me exactly but I know that I remember those words clearly. He offered my mom a contract to sign on my behalf but she declined. I was really upset about it at the time. I also know that in the years that followed, puberty hit and my self esteem plummeted and I was left with a massive case of stage fright. Over the years, I slowly quit acting and singing and became an art major in college instead. I went on to become a creative in advertising. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties, working on a commercial shoot, directed by the first woman we had ever hired, that I realized I should have tried to work behind the camera rather than in front of it.
Writing television or directing movies were just not options that even occurred to me when I was younger. By then, because 30 felt ancient at the time, I thought it was too late.
Mazzy wants to be an actress now. It has nothing to do with me— she had no idea that was a dream of mine once too. I’m not going to discourage her, but I’m also going to make sure she knows about all the other power players she can be in the television and movie industry.
Sunday night’s Golden Globes was the first award ceremony she had ever seen. She was interested and lobbied to stay up and watch, even though I made her go back to bed. In the future, when she does stay up to watch awards shows like these, I hope there are many more examples of successful women in the industry than the beautiful women in fancy gowns winning Best Actress that I remember as a kid. I hope there are directors and cinematographers and producers and screenwriters too.
I don’t care what they wear.
And judging by Mazzy’s reaction to the all-black Golden Globes last night, she doesn’t either.