With only a few days to go before the much-debated Oscars telecast and on the heels of yet more research that proves Hollywood is still operated for—and by—straight, white men, the New York Times has published a series of interviews with 27 industry insiders to tell "the stories behind the numbers." The personal revelations from the likes of America Ferrera, Priyanka Chopra, Eva Longoria, Mindy Kaling, and more are the evidence we already knew we had: We have so much work left to do. The entire compilation is worth a closer look. For now, though, seven of the highlights (and low, low, lowlights) below:
America Ferrera on starting out in an unwelcoming business:
"I was 18 and putting myself on tape for a movie I really wanted. I got that phone call: They cast a Latino male in another role in the film; they're not looking to cast [a Latina]. So I defiantly bleached my hair blond, painted my face white, and made the audition tape. I never heard back. I just remember feeling so powerless. What do you do when someone says, 'Your color skin is not what we're looking for'?"
Eva Longoria on not being "Latin enough" for casting directors:
"I didn't speak Spanish [growing up]. I'm ninth generation. I mean, I'm as American as apple pie. I'm very proud of my heritage. But I remember moving to L.A. and auditioning and not being Latin enough for certain roles. Some white male casting director was dictating what it meant to be Latin. He decided I needed an accent. He decided I should [have] darker-colored skin. The gatekeepers are not usually people of color, so they don't understand you should be looking for way more colors of the rainbow within that one ethnicity."
Queen Latifah on representing a real woman's body:
"The discussion came up when we were doing [the TV series] "Living Single" that [the cast needs] to lose weight. [My manager] Shakim would get the call, and it would be laughter by the time it got to me, because there's no way. I felt I represented a woman out there who should get to see somebody who weighs about as much as she does."
Karyn Kusama, director of Jennifer's Body, on the expectations of women in film:
"The marketing department wanted Megan [Fox] to do live chats with amateur porn sites, and I was like, 'I'm begging you not to go to her with this idea, she will become so dispirited.'"
Eva Longoria on being a woman behind the camera:
"It's always been meant as a compliment, but [crew members] go: 'You know what you're doing. Wow. You know lenses. Oh, my God, you know shots?' Yes, I know where to put the camera. You just go, 'Do you say to the dude directors, 'I'm pleasantly surprised you knew what you were doing'?"
Mindy Kaling on being a #girlboss:
"My personality, and [that of other women] I know, is to want to please. It can sometimes feel alien to just say, 'I need this to happen, because it's my show,' and not feel afterward that you've been unprofessional simply by stating the thing that you want. ... When women push back, they [are perceived as] bitches or divas. I just made a slight demand that wasn't even that bad. And at the end of it, I'll send bagels [to the staff]. Please forgive me for asserting myself in a small way."
Priyanka Chopra on the small victories:
"I do feel extremely proud when I have people of the South Asian community coming up to me and saying, Thankfully we're seeing a non-stereotyped Indian. At an event, I remember this girl hugged me and started crying. She said, 'Thank you for making us relevant.' It gives me goose bumps every time I think about it."
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