I’ve been a fan of Minnie Driver’s since she was in Circle of Friends (with Alan Cumming – the bomb dot com) and I’m still pissed that FX canceled The Riches (especially after the story was left unresolved.) The statuesque, 47-year-old actress, currently starring the ABC comedy Speechless, took part in the The Hollywood Reporter’s Comedy Actress Roundtable, a transcript of which appears in the magazine’s June 14 issue. Minnie joined other actresses, including Superstore’s America Ferrara and the amazing Kathryn Hahn, to talk about the state of affairs for women in Hollywood.
Minnie plays Maya on Speechless. She’s a tough “mama bear” protective of her family, especially her teenage son, JJ, who has cerebral palsy. During the roundtable she joked that she excels at playing women who are “awful but relatable.” But, joking aside, she did have a good point about the perception of strong women, like Maya, in media and society.
I actually have a real problem with women being called unlikable because you never hear that about a man. They’re called antiheroes and they’re funny and they’re strong and they’re interesting. She’s not likable across the board, and most women or most people aren’t, but she has a very heightened set of circumstances. If you’re handed a baby who a doctor tells you is never going to lead a typical life — they probably won’t walk, they probably won’t talk [with cerebral palsy] — the small stuff doesn’t really apply anymore. You say whatever you think. So I feel like she has a different set of tenets by which she lives, and some of them are really not likable, but she’s human in that way. I think a lot of actresses were worried that that would somehow tarnish them. That’s interesting as an actor. I like it.
It’s very antithetical to being an actress because we are groomed to be people pleasers, and we’ve got to make everybody like us because we’ve got to be in competition with every other girl in a way that men really aren’t.
I hate saying that we’re created out of some sort of patriarchal idea, but we sort of are. You’re not given that many iterations of what it is to be a woman in film and TV. Or we certainly haven’t been up until now, now being the golden age of television where you can do whatever you want. You can write whatever you want, you can direct it how you want, and you can embody it.
Minnie is trying to “change the narrative” for women in film and TV. She asserted that “We change it by sitting here and talking about these things. We change it by writing shows, by directing.” Even though she and her fellow actresses are bringing the issues they face to light, there’s still a major, unfair disparity between these women and their male counterparts.
But what if you’re looking at what the men are getting paid in a movie, for example, and they’re getting paid not just twice, but maybe four or five times [as much], and it’s a three-hander piece and a woman is getting paid so significantly less, but the part is great and it’s the same screen time, and you’ve got a mortgage to pay and you want to be a good actor and you want opportunities? What are you supposed to do? Are you supposed to take the part or are you supposed to go, “No”?
It sucks, doesn’t it? I don’t know if I could be an actress and have to deal with all of this patriarchal baloney. So I work in the insurance industry, home of the “good old boy” network (emphasis on the “boy.” Ugh). But, hey, at least there is some good news for Minnie, as Speechless was picked up for a second season. Congrats. She took to Twitter to make the announcement last month.
Well, @Speechless_ABC has officially been picked up for a second season. 🎯🏆
— Minnie Driver (@driverminnie) May 12, 2017
By the way, she’s a good follow on Twitter, if only for her pointed (and often hilarious) political commentary, like this great post from the day of the Comey hearings. I don’t know about you, but I think there is absolutely nothing unlikeable about her.
— Minnie Driver (@driverminnie) June 8, 2017
Photos: Getty Images, WENN.com