in “Big Little Lies
is up for an Emmy for her role on “Big Little Lies
,” and she’s loudly and proudly acknowledging the impact of the hit HBO series. “We’re changing the game for actresses over 40,” she said of the murder mystery at the Deauville Film Festival. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the two-time Oscar nominee also sounded off about how female-led stories differ on TV and film and the importance of equal pay.
The two-time Oscar nominee celebrated “Big Little Lie’s” “wealth of great female characters” at the event. Also earning Emmy nods are Dern’s co-stars Reese Witherspoon
, Nicole Kidman
, and Shailene Woodley
. The former two served as producers. “You want [everyone] to win so they can go up together and they can all say how lucky we are to be collaborating,” she joked. The “Certain Women
” star described her colleagues’ work as “brave, raw, hilarious, and heartbreaking,” and emphasized that “you can’t say one is better than anyone else.”
Dern seemed to attribute some of the “Big Little Lies
’” success to the medium the story was told through. She identified TV as “a place where filmmakers have more autonomy to explore without the pressure of an opening weekend. It’s exciting for female-driven material and female characters, there’s no one saying, ‘She needs to be little nicer,’ or ‘She needs to be a little less complicated.’”
It’s worth noting, however, that “Big Little Lies
” was written by David E. Kelly and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée
— two men. The small screen has — deservedly — earned a better rep than film for offering women multidimensional roles in recent years, but the number of women with the opportunity to write and direct for TV remains disappointingly low (and men still outnumber women when it comes to major characters and speaking roles on TV).
Dern is well-aware that Hollywood has a long way to go. She said that her mother, Diane Ladd
, fought for equal pay back in the ’70s, and she’s surprised so little has changed in three decades. “We are demanding nothing less right now,” Dern said of equal pay — but she recognizes it’s still not happening.
” alumna addressed her own resume and how it falls short when it comes to collaborating with women directors. “People will ask me why I haven’t worked with more women directors — it’s because they didn’t get the job. And it’s tragic,” she said. “But if a financier is hiring, from a list of directors it is rare that one female name is on there.”
A second season of “Big Little Lies
” has yet to be confirmed. The show’s success with audiences and critics will hopefully help convince execs that there is indeed a demand for series about female characters over 40. According to The Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film, during the 2015–16 TV season, “the majority of female characters were in their 20s and 30s (56 percent), whereas the majority of male characters were in their 30s and 40s (60 percent)” on streaming and cable programs.Laura Dern
on “Changing the Game
for Actresses Over 40” and Equal Pay was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.