Gemma Arterton: I’m a feminist

In a PR office in London, I sit across from her over a huge boardroom table. Reading from my notes, it feels as though I’m interviewing her for an office job. She said in one interview it was hard to be a feminist in the acting world. What did she mean by that? “It’s such a male-dominated industry,” she says, eyes rolling. “You can be a feminist, it’s just difficult because it sometimes comes back at you. Actually, in the last year I’ve found it less, because people know I’m a feminist now.” I wonder how they know. Does she wear a badge? “I found, sometimes the way I’m spoken to, or regarded … In the last year, the respect for me as an actor rather than as just the girl from the Bond film has changed. I think a lot of it is down to that I am now choosing who I am working with. I meet somebody, and it’s a two-way decision. It’s not me going, ‘please will you employ me?’ Now it’s, ‘am I going to be able to collaborate with you and have a conversation that’s not about how big your trailer is?’ It’s become easier that way.”

When she first started, she says, “it was if the world had done me a favour. Especially on the bigger movies, it was like, ‘you’re lucky you’re here, so don’t speak up’, and that was frustrating.” She is weighing her words so carefully that I feel I have to keep poking her. Does she mean her ideas weren’t listened to, or there were things she didn’t want to do? “Yeah. Or things I just don’t believe in that seem important. I’m not really supposed to do big commercial movies because I don’t really believe in the … ” She lets the sentence hang. “The industry is quite chauvinistic generally. Expectations of women, girls, what they should look like, how they should be, what they should say, what they should wear, how their hair should be, what colour their skin should be. It’s always going to be like that. It’s not so much like that in theatre or independent film, and that’s why I’m sort of gravitating towards those now, because otherwise you’re fighting a losing battle and never going to win it. You’re just going to be known as the mouthy one who gets in trouble for saying what she thinks. I thought to myself, do I say stuff or do I silently be a feminist. What’s the best thing to do?”

Read the full story in The Guardian.

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