The diva label: Jennifer Lopez on how much nicer women have to be than men

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Jennifer Lopez. Photo provided

Jennifer Lopez. Photo provided

The Hollywood Reporter recently gathered seven top actresses working in television today — Julianna Margulies, 49 (CBS’ The Good Wife); Jennifer Lopez, 46 (NBC’s Shades of Blue); Sarah Paulson, 41 (FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, American Horror Story: Hotel); Kirsten Dunst, 34 (FX’s Fargo); Regina King, 45 (ABC’s American Crime, HBO’s The Leftovers); Kerry Washington, 39 (ABC’s Scandal, HBO’s Confirmation); and Constance Zimmer, 45 (Lifetime’s UnREAL) — for a candid roundtable conversation ranging from how they approach nudity in a role to how they’ve had to fight for acceptance from the Producers Guild.

What really stood out for me in the conversation: Lopez’s thoughts on getting labeled a “diva.”

“I’ve always been fascinated by how much more well-behaved we have to be than men,” Lopez says in the roundtable. “I got a moniker of being ‘the diva,’ which I never felt I deserved — which I don’t deserve — because I’ve always been a hard worker, on time, doing what I’m supposed to do, and getting that label because you reach a certain amount of success … I was always fascinated by how I could see (a man) being late or being belligerent to a crew and it being totally acceptable; meanwhile, I’d show up 15 minutes late and be berated. And you watch this happen over and over and over again. Like, we’re not allowed to have certain opinions or even be passionate about something, or they’ll be like, ‘God, she’s really difficult.’ It’s like, ‘Am I? Am I difficult because I care?'”

Lopez added that “sometimes I felt crippled to voice my opinion, especially because certain directors and the boys’ club that they form can make you feel like, ‘Oh, I can’t say anything.'”

Her comments remind me of a 2011 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology titled “Do Nice Guys — And Gals — Really Finish Last? The Joint Effects of Sex and Agreeableness on Income,” which found that nice guys actually finish second in business and women finish last, regardless of whether they are nice or not.

In one part of the study, researchers had 460 undergrads at Southeastern University complete a study in which they had to act as human resource managers for a fictional company. They were given descriptions of eight equally-experienced candidates’ qualifications as well as the individuals’ behavior towards other people. The students were then asked to determine whether or not the candidates should be fast-tracked to management positions.

As the Huffington Post sums it up, agreeable candidates were less likely to be recommended for advancement. Female candidates in general were less likely to be recommended.

Although disagreeable men earned 18.31 percent ($9,772) more than agreeable men, disagreeable women only earned 5.47 percent (or $1,828) more than agreeable women. Furthermore, regardless of whether they were agreeable or disagreeable, women still earned less than even the disadvantaged “nice guys.” The gap between women, generally, and agreeable men was almost as large as the agreeable-disagreeable gap among the men.

In other words, while for men it quite literally pays to be contrarian, women are at a disadvantage no matter how they act in the workplace (although “disagreeable” women are at a slight advantage to nicer women.)

“If you’re a disagreeable man, you’re considered a tough negotiator,” said Timothy Judge, a professor of management who specialized in personality, moods, emotions, leadership, career and life success at the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame, one of the study’s authors. “But, the perception is that if a woman is agreeable, she gets taken advantage of, and if she is disagreeable, she’s considered a control freak or ‘the B-word.’”

Another interesting point from The Hollywood Reporter roundtable is how having women in leadership seems to change the workplace dynamics, at least for these actresses. Washington noted that working with Shonda Rimes practically turns the usual sexist narrative that women in entertainment typically face on its head.

“It is specified in scripts that guys take their shirts off all the time. … The guys are naked all the time! And she has said to all the women on the show: ‘You want to do a love scene in a parka? You just let me know.’ So it’s this weird, like, reparations moment where the girls get to do what they want to do and the guys get to do what they want to do, but they know what Shonda wants them to do,” Washington said.

Zimmer added, “On UnREAL, we have two female leads, female showrunners and writers, and it’s very driven toward us being empowered, which is definitely different. We can treat the men a bit like how we may have been treated earlier in our careers or just as women in general. It’s fun to watch the tables be turned and to see the guys on set eating lettuce.”

Robin Wright appears in "House of Cards." Photo provided

Robin Wright appears in “House of Cards.” Photo provided

Robin Wright demands and gets equal pay for House of Cards

Robin Wright recently demanded to be paid the same as co-star Kevin Spacey for her work on House of Cards, according to the Huffington Post.

“I was like, ‘I want to be paid the same as Kevin,’” Wright, 50, told a roomful of activists, philanthropists and media last week at the Rockefeller Foundation.

Wright plays Claire Underwood, the sinister counterpart and co-conspirator to Spacey’s President Frank Underwood on Netflix’s popular show. She is a producer and occasional director for House of Cards. The fourth season of the series debuted in March and delved even more deeply into Claire’s character.

“It was a perfect paradigm. There are very few films or TV shows where the male, the patriarch, and the matriarch are equal. And they are in House of Cards,” Wright said.

“I was looking at statistics and Claire Underwood’s character was more popular than (Frank’s) for a period of time. So I capitalized on that moment. I was like, ‘You better pay me or I’m going to go public,’” Wright added. “And they did.”

Kudos to her.

Sasha Lane stars in Andrea Arnold's new film "American Honey." Parts & Labor and Pulse Films photo

Sasha Lane stars in Andrea Arnold’s new film “American Honey.” Parts & Labor and Pulse Films photo

First female-focused film finance initiative launches at Cannes

The 69th Cannes Film Festival wrapped Sunday in France, and as previously reported, there were some interesting moments in which women, their movies and their calls for equality seized the spotlight.

Among the interesting developments last week at Cannes: Boudica, Europe’s first film finance initiative aimed at female-centric films, launched at the festival, according to Screen Daily.

The initiative, which is supported by the UK’s Women in Film & TV, will offer production and completion finance for films that meet a number of criteria with the aim of increasing the employment of women in the film industry.

Boudica is headed by Rebecca Long and Ian Davies, who have co-financed seven films including The Falling and Iona.

“We agree with the recent report of Directors UK that there is an “unconscious, systemic bias” towards male directors and it’s been well documented that there is a similar under-representation forwomen in other crew departments and in terms of lead protagonists in films. We hope that our investment will play a role, albeit a very small one, in helping address this issue,” Long said.

Boudica will look at the gender of director, screenwriter, producer, lead protagonists and as well the overall gender balance of the crew. The aim is to achieve greater female representation in crew and films it supports.

Other femme-centric notes from the 2016 Cannes Film Festival:

– British director Andrea Arnold received her third Jury Prize for her well-received American Honey, according to Deadline. Arnold won the Jury Prize at Cannes for Red Road in 2006 and three years later for Fish Tank.

American Honey stars Shia LaBeouf, Sasha Lane and Riley Keough in the story of Star (Lane), an adolescent girl from a troubled home. Star runs away with a traveling sales crew who drive across the American Heartland selling subscriptions door to door. Finding her feet in this gang of teenagers, one of whom is Jake (LaBeouf), she soon gets into the group’s lifestyle of hard-partying nights, law-bending days and young love.

– French director Uda Benyamina won the Camera d’Or  for her first film, Divines, according to Deadline.

– Best Actress went to the Philippines’ Jaclyn Jose for her role in Brillante Mendoza’s Ma’Rosa. According to Deadline, it was a competitive field with strong turns from the likes of American Honey breakout Lane; Elle‘s Isabelle Huppert; The Neon Demon‘s Elle Fanning; From The Land Of The Moon‘s Marion Cotillard; and Ruth Negga in Jeff Nichols’ Loving.

The Wrap has declared Maren Ade’s funny and touching family drama Toni Erdmann the true winner of Cannes, bemoaning that Ade was denied the chance to become the rare woman to win the Palme d’Or.

“No, it didn’t win anything from the jury. But in a way, that made the jury look worse than the movie, which was the clear sensation of the festival.
Maren Ade’s film about a father trying to loosen up his grown daughter drew the best reaction from audiences, bringing the house down with two brilliantly funny and touching scenes in its homestretch. It got the best reviews. It landed a North American distribution deal with Sony Pictures Classics, the gold standard when it comes to bringing Cannes movies to the American audience — and into the Oscar race, where Toni Erdmann figures to be a strong contender, assuming that Germany makes the film its official foreign-language submission. And now the jury’s snub has made it a cause celebre,” Steve Pond and Ben Croll write for The Wrap.

This year’s Palme d’Or went to Ken Loach, now a two-time winner, for his social drama I, Daniel Blake.

Anna Gunn appears in "Equity." Photo provided

Anna Gunn appears in “Equity.” Photo provided

Quick hitters:

Women woefully underrepresented in British cinema. If misery loves company, then American women who cringe at the woeful statistics about the number of women working behind the camera in Hollywood should check out Professor Linda Ruth Williams essay in The Pool about her findings about the dismal number of women working in British cinema.

Williams co-authored with a team from Southampton University “Calling the Shots: Women in Contemporary UK Film Culture,” a project producing cutting-edge research about how women in the film industry work today (showing that too often they can’t work as they want to), as well as exploring the vibrant films produced when women do make it, and the new stories they are able to tell. Their recent data report – the most comprehensive so far – looked at all British films in production in 2015, counting the numbers of men and women in six key roles.

“On average, just 20 per cent of all directors, screenwriters, producers, executive producers, cinematographers and editors in UK film were female (based on 203 films),” Williams writes. “Things are even worse for black and ethnic minority women compared to white women – of that 20 per cent, just 7 per cent were women of color (a tiny 1.5 per cent of all people working in these roles). Perhaps our most depressing finding was that 25 per cent of films in 2015 had no woman whatsoever in any of these key roles.”

Depressing indeed.

Anna Gunn goes Wall Street in Equity. Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn plays a powerful woman of Wall Street in Equity, a financial thriller from director Meera Menon (Farah Goes Bang). Check out the newly released trailer here.

The two-time Emmy winner plays Naomi Bishop, a senior investment banker at the largest investment firm. When she’s passed over for a promotion, she fights to take a start-up public to ensure her ascension, though she’s drawn into a world of deceitful office politics and a possible crack in the company’s walls.

Written by Amy Fox (Heights), Equity made a splash at Sundance, where Sony Pictures Classics acquired its worldwide rights. It opens in theaters July 29.



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