New voices

by Carlo Maria Rabai

At the Hotel Excelsior, in the space lent by the Veneto Region, and moderated by journalist Penny Martin, the by now traditional conversation series of Miu Miu Women's Tales saw Tessa ThompsonHunter Schafer and Margaret Qualley take the stage for the talks hosted by Giornate degli Autori so women in film can share their views on the woman's role today. It's an opportunity to encourage a critical appraisal of women in the business: their challenges, goals, and more and more concrete progress in the direction of equality. The three actresses discussed their own experiences in film and television and the plethora of female talent, both established and emerging, that is increasingly involved in the entertainment industry on the front line, in director and producer roles.

 "All too often women don't get the chance to make films, or maybe once every ten years," Thompson declared. "Still, I do want to stress the fact that in the last decade an abundance of female talent has emerged, even in PR, which is unusual. Unfortunately, when there's a woman behind the camera the skeptics lie in wait and the artist's under pressure, afraid to experiment and risk messing up, only to lose out on doing another film."
Known for her roles both in blockblusters like Avengers: EndgameMen in Black: International, and Creed, or the series Westworld, and in more independent films, Thompson went on: "I had the good fortune to work with Ava DuVernay, and the experience filming Selma was amazing, since Ava was able to portray a leader like Martin Luther King by humanizing him in an original way. Personally, as a woman of color living in the new golden age of television, I've had more opportunities than others, but clearly my own personal story does not reflect the situations of all the women working in this business. If I had to name the professionals I admire, I definitely adore the characters written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge for Fleabag, and I would really love to work with Greta Gerwig."

Her views are borne out by Hunter Schafer, the transgender actress with a key role in the HBO series Euphoria, which was also her screen debut: "My character is a seventeen-year-old trans trying to get her bearings in her search for her sexuality, which brings her face-to-face with many issues. Sam [Ed. Note: Levinson, the creator of the series] is literally incredible. The first thing we did was have a chat over a cup of coffee to put together a kind of mosaic and explore the psyches of the characters, even the minor roles. I'd like to do some more acting now, to see where it takes me. I feel we're venturing into unknown territory for the film industry; and I know many talented trans women who contain entire worlds, and I feel they could play almost any role." As to the talent now in circulation: "I love the casts of Pose and Euphoria, especially Z [Zendaya - Ed.], who's in most of my scenes and was very open about working with me, making everything much easier."

Margaret Qualley shared her own experiences: "I had the chance to make films that I liked; it was fantastic to work with Quentin Tarantino [Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - Ed.], for example, because he conveyed his enthusiasm to the crew as well, and being on set was a pleasure. With him, there's no compromising on passion. Working with Tim Sutton on The Chain was also a great experience, and when I met Michelle William on the set of Fosse/Verdon I was terrified, which always happens when I really admire someone." As for her relationship with her parents, Andie MacDowell and Paul Qualley: "I have a normal relationship with my mother - we never talk about work - while with my father, I always wonder what he thinks of the roles I choose."