Zoe Kazan, a Hollywood actor, writer and producer, is the latest to join the movement of female actors opening up about the rampant sexism which exists in the film industry. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Kazan revealed the magnitude of the sexual harassment that has shadowed her throughout her career.
Often the harassment which occurs is carefully subtle, but it exists nonetheless. Wearing ‘body-conscious’ clothing to auditions and giving ‘blow-job eyes’ and flirt with the producer and director have almost become industry standards.
She was once asked by a producer if she “spat or swallowed”. He laughed it off as a joke afterwards. Kazan says the comment made her uncomfortable. She felt powerless and ashamed.
It’s not easy to report harassment, Kazan claims, because a ‘difficult’ reputation in the industry can make it hard to secure jobs in the future.
“You don’t want to get a reputation for being difficult,” says Zoe Kazan to The Guardian)
Despite this, numerous female actors have come forward with stories of sexual harassment on and around film sets. Ashley Judd spoke out about a particular unnamed studio mogul who made a steady collection of advances against her, leading up to his asking her to watch him take a shower, in 2015. During an audition for Entourage, Alison Brie was asked to take her top off.
“Early in my career, I auditioned for three lines on an episode of Entourage that I had to go on in a bikini or like shorts and the tiniest shirt. . . and they were like, ‘Okay, can you take your top off now?'” (Alison Brie, Sydney Morning Herald)
Kazan, whose portfolio includes the films Ruby Sparks (2012) and The Big Sick (2017), says her partner, fellow actor Paul Dano, has very different experiences at work.
Nine in ten roles require Kazan to cry, she reveals. This is “rarely” required of Dano. Conversely, she’s only had to hold a gun once in auditions whereas this is more commonplace for Dano. She believes her partner has access to a different range of roles than she does, purely due to his gender.
“I’ve told Paul about stuff that has happened on set and it’s almost as if he can’t take it in. It’s too upsetting. And he’s never had to deal with that once.” (Zoe Kazan, The Guardian)
The actor said that incidents like these are commonplace in the industry. The issue exists outside of Hollywood however; women face sexual discrimination in a variety of forms in multiple industries.