Laura Linney last night received the The Crystal Award for Excellence in Film at Women in Film LA’s annual Crystal+Lucy awards gala at the Beverly Hilton. A three-time Oscar nominee and three-time Emmy winner, she was introduced by producer-director Alan Poul and gave an acceptance speech that one Deadline insider at the event called “the best I’ve heard in years”. Said Linney: “Rarely do you have a scene with other women, very few women are on the crew, and what few female executives arrive tend to keep to themselves. … This is a problem”. Here’s the full transcript:
Thank you Alan for that exceedingly kind introduction. And thank you to the board of trustees of Woman in Film, not only for this honor, but for all of the work that you do to encourage and improve the landscape for women in our pursuit of both art and commerce within this entertainment industry.
My relationship to film and television started, by Hollywood standards, relatively late in my life. I was born into the theatre which claimed my heart since childhood. I loved film, I loved going to films, I loved SEEING people think and react: I marveled at the acting skills and choices that were made and cinematic storytelling, but it was a world that intimated me greatly and one which felt foreign and very far away.
But life is full of many surprises, and after my days at Juilliard, my very wise agent, the late Brian Riordan, ever so slowly encouraged me to dip my toe in the film waters. I resisted, but he prevailed. I was a day player on a few films which was fun, did a commercial or two, and then was cast in Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, which changed my connection to camera work and indeed, changed my life. I will never forget the day that the penny dropped. We were filming in a grocery store, and Parker Posey and I were traveling with our grocery carts, with great energy, from the frozen food aisle to the vegetables. I rarely had had so much fun, and it was on that day that I realized that there would have to be room in my life for two loves…..and I gave myself permission to be a film/theatre bigamist.
As I spent more and more time on sets, a few surprising and alien patterns began to emerge. An enormous amount of time and energy went into conversations about the color of my hair. Producers, all male, would shake their heads in dismay, and send me back to the colorist with some idea of what they wanted with their very specific and helpful straight man vocabulary of “MORE” blonde or “LESS” blonde. ( I always thought they were trying to re-create a color from some old flame). It became absurd and predicable and a complete waste of time…..I have been more shades of blonde then you can possibly imagine. And it is a miracle that I have a strand left in my head.
Unlike in the theatre, I soon realized that for the most part I was surrounded by men. A lot of really wonderful men as well as some not so wonderful ones. As an actress in film, it is very easy to become isolated just due to the ratio of gender inequality that exists. Rarely do you have a scene with other women, very few women are on the crew, and what few female executives arrive tend to keep to themselves. You have fewer and fewer women to turn to for help or advice, and information is not easily shared.
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