WEEK IN WOMEN news roundup: Lena Waithe to receive MTV’s Trailblazer Award, ‘Killing Eve’ showrunner Phoebe Waller-Bridge talks about swapping in female roles, and Natalie Dormer to star as Vivien Leigh in upcoming series

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Lena Waithe appears in "Ready Player One." Warner Bros. photo

Lena Waithe appears in “Ready Player One.” Warner Bros. photo

Lena Waithe will be honored with the Trailblazer Award at the MTV Movie & TV Awards, which will air June 19 with Tiffany Haddish as host.

The award recognizes content creators that introduce new and unique voices within the entertainment industry, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Waithe marked a milestone when she was the first woman of color to win the best writing in a comedy series award at the Emmys for her work on “Master of None.” She recently starred in Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” and is the creator, writer and producer of Showtime’s “The Chi.”

Her latest project is the upcoming television show “Twenties,” which she is writing and producing for TBS.

In addition her work on and offscreen, Waithe works with The Black List to mentor young, diverse writers.

“Lena is shaking up Hollywood and breaking cultural boundaries through her innovative and authentic storytelling,” said Amy Doyle, general manager of MTV, VH1 and Logo, in a statement. “Her unwavering passion for equality and inclusion make her the perfect recipient for this year’s Trailblazer Award.”

‘Killing Eve’ showrunner Phoebe Waller-Bridge talks about swapping in female roles

Multi-hypenate Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who stole the show in “Solo: A Star Wars Story” as the voice of the drily witty, crusading droid L3-37, has been doing a little crusading of her own as showrunner of BBC America’s new drama “Killing Eve.”

The series is based on Luke Jennings’ “Codename Villanelle” novellas, but while the broad strokes and main characters are inspired by the source material, Waller-Bridge told TheWrap.com that she ended up changing some of the male characters in the books to female characters on the show. Waller-Bridge said it was change that the author supported.

“I was really determined to make [the women] as individually colorful as I could,” she said, noting that the spy genre generally doesn’t represent “varying personalities” when it comes to female characters. She particularly found those varying personalities in compelling assassin Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer, and MI5 officer Eve, played by Sandra Oh.

Eve is the “perfect counterpoint to Villanelle,” Waller-Bridge said, because she’s “crippled by a sense of self-consciousness and guilt. In that way, I feel like she is an Everywoman and people can relate to her. She wants to have an easy life, at the same time craving an extraordinary one.

“She feels guilty about feeling dissatisfied, whereas Villanelle has no guilt about being dissatisfied in her life.”

The showrunner said she has taken inspiration from a question Villanelle asks in the series: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

“Whenever I get stuck on something, I’m like, ‘What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?’” she said. “What would I write if I wasn’t afraid? What would I say in this situation if I wasn’t afraid?’

“[Villanelle] sees social construct as something to play with and manipulate and f— with. If I could look at the world in that way, oh, my God, everything would be so much more fun.”

Natalie Dormer to star in, produce series about Vivien Leigh

“Game of Thrones” star Natalie Dormer is preparing to portray “Gone with the Wind” icon Vivien Leigh in an upcoming small-screen series, according to Deadline Hollywood.

Dormer will be teaming up with FremantleMedia and UK production company Mainstreet Pictures to develop and produce a series that will focus on Leigh’s personal and professional successes and struggles. The “American Gods” producers will have the international distribution rights to the yet-unnamed series about the two-time Oscar winner.

Though the number of episodes that the project will be has yet to be determined, Deadline Hollywood reports that the plan is to focus each episode on a specific project in the “Streetcar Named Desire” actor’s legendary filmography, plus the Tony Award winner’s 20-year marriage to Laurence Olivier. Presented in the context of the 1940s Hollywood, issues of mental health, career, female empowerment (or the lack thereof) and love will be explored in the series.

Stewart Harcourt, who penned 2016’s “ Churchill’s Secret,” has been tapped as a screenwriter. In addition to archival material and the films the actor made, the project will additionally draw from Kendra Bean’s 2013 biography, “Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait.”

Dormer is currently featured in the new adaptation of “Picnic At Hanging Rock” via Amazon Video and “In Darkness,” a thriller she co-wrote, on the big screen.

-BAM

 

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