At the 2020 Academy Awards, Natalie Portman rolled up in a cape embroidered with the names of all the women directors who weren’t nominated that night and really should have been: Lorene Scafaria, Lulu Wang, Greta Gerwig, etc. I personally thought it was a cute, benign gesture, certainly not as powerful as actually just working with more women directors in the future which, as Rose McGowan was quick to point out, isn’t something Portman is known for.
In a long Facebook statement, McGowan wrote, “Natalie, you have worked with two female directors in your very long career- one of them was you. You have a production company that has hired exactly one female director- you.” She went on to write, “I am singling you out because you are the latest in a long line of actresses who are acting the part of a woman who cares about other women. Actresses who supposedly stand for women, but in reality do not do much at all.”
Natalie Portman responded in a statement via Variety, writing, “It is true I’ve only made a few films with women. In my long career, I’ve only gotten the chance to work with female directors a few times – I’ve made shorts, commercials, music videos and features with Marya Cohen, Mira Nair, Rebecca Zlotowski, Anna Rose Holmer, Sofia Coppola, Shirin Neshat and myself. Unfortunately, the unmade films I have tried to make are a ghost history.”
“So I want to say, I have tried, and I will keep trying,” she continued. “While I have not yet been successful, I am hopeful that we are stepping into a new day.”
My question is: can’t an actress just wear a piece of clothing with the names of women directors on it and it not be labeled a “protest?” It’s not that deep!