It’s not all glitz and glam.
For their annual lead actress roundtable, The Hollywood Reporter sat down with actresses Jennifer Lopez, Renée Zellweger, Laura Dern, Lupita Nyong’o, Awkwafina and Scarlett Johansson. The women have vastly different experiences in Hollywood, but their desire to perform and share stories unites them all. Throughout the conversation, they touch on everything from navigating Hollywood to their experience with the #MeToo movement.
“He wanted to see my boobs,” Lopez shared of an early interaction with a director on a film. “And I was like, ‘We’re not on set.’ And I said no, I stood up for myself. But it was so funny because I remember being so panicked in the moment. And by the way, there was a costume designer in the room with me. So there was another woman in the room and he says this and I said no. Luckily a little bit of the Bronx came out, and I was like, ‘I don’t have to show you my—No. On the set, you see them.'”
Lopez wasn’t alone in her experience. The other women at the table, unfortunately, could empathize with the feeling of being placed in uncomfortable work situations throughout their careers. Dern discussed the age old hotel room audition that was very commonplace when she first started out in the business.
“I started auditioning at 10, 11 years old,” Dern recalled. “I listen to the next generation, saying, ‘People used to have auditions in hotel rooms?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, every single time, waiting in the lobby of a hotel and the director is waiting for you in the room to have a chemistry read.'”
Although it sounds very sleazy now, Lopez recognizes that most of the time it was just a typical business interaction. “And sometimes it was not inappropriate at all,” Lopez shared. “It was totally professional. So it’s not like you can put everybody in that category.”
The other actresses agreed with her assessment. “No, it just kind of afforded an opportunity to be inappropriate if you were so inclined,” Zellweger shared. While Nyong’o recognized that there has never been a better time for women and people of color in the industry, she’s hoping all of these new movements are here to stay.
“This is a time where there is a concerted effort to consider diversity and inclusion,” she shared. “What I really want is for it to not be a fad, not be a trend. Right now it’s really dope and cool and on trend to work with women and underrepresented groups, but the moment of maturity in the industry is when it is just the norm, you know?”