Brie Larson requested a disabled woman of color for her Marie Claire UK interview


JENNIFER ANISTON AND BRAD PITT BACKSTAGE AT THE MUSICARES PERSON OF THE YEAR DINNER HONORING SIR ELTON JOHN AT THE 20TH CENTURY FOX STUDIOS, CALIFORNIA. 21/02/00  -URW/

It only occurred to me recently as to why I’ve grown so fond towards Brie Larson: she reminds me of the rise of a certain kind of celebrity in the ‘90s. She’s normal looking – pretty, but in a normal way – and she doesn’t look tweaked or pulled or contoured. She wears normal clothes. She seems to be politically engaged in a way that a lot of celebrities were in the ‘90s too. I don’t know, she just gives me a vintage-y flair. Anyway, Brie looks totally ‘90s on the cover of the March issue of Marie Claire UK. That’s what made me think of it – this cover could have come out in 1997. For her profile, Brie hand-selected her interviewer: Keah Brown, a freelance journalist, a woman of color and someone with cerebral palsy. Brie and Keah talked about why Brie wanted someone other than a white male interviewing her. You can read the full Marie Claire piece here. Some highlights:

Why Brie requested a disabled, female journalist: ‘About a year ago, I started paying attention to what my press days looked like and the critics reviewing movies, and noticed 
it appeared to be overwhelmingly white male. So, I spoke to 
Dr Stacy Smith at the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, who put together a study to confirm that. Moving forward, I decided to make sure my press days were more inclusive. After speaking with you, the film critic Valerie Complex and a few other women of colour, it sounded like across the board they weren’t getting the same opportunities as others. When I talked to the facilities that weren’t providing it, they all had different excuses.’

Why she wants to give women like Keah more visibility: ‘I want to go out of my way to connect the dots. It just took me using the power that I’ve been given now as Captain Marvel. [The role] comes with all these privileges and powers that make me feel uncomfortable because I don’t really need them.’

On female superheroes: ‘It’s just the beginning. Captain Marvel will not be the answer to all of these things. It’s about breaking it open to say, “Here’s another way; here’s something to look at to then continue the conversation further.” For me, just the act of accepting the role and the process of getting physically strong [Larson worked out for four and a half hours every day for three months] changed me so much and made me stronger mentally. Hopefully, that will remind others, whatever journey they’re on, of their inner strength.’

How she feels about making big money: ‘I wouldn’t say I had a surplus [amount] of money until about two years ago. So, it’s still a fresh experience for me and, because I never had it, I always felt scared of it. I grew up getting [my clothes] at the thrift store. When I was finally in a position to go out and buy a T-shirt, I was like, “How is it $100? I could buy 50 of them at the thrift store.”’

What she spends her money on: ‘The extra money I have is like energy, it’s a currency I can use. I’ve realised I’ll go broke for the people I love, and I love a lot of people. I’m happy to pitch in and help others fulfil their dreams, get on their feet, whatever it is. I donate to GoFundMe. I don’t need that much stuff, I’ve had this jean jacket I’m wearing for three years. I’m good, I don’t need another jean jacket.’

[From Marie Claire UK]

Is there something slightly performative about Brie? Sure, maybe. But don’t discount what she’s doing just because she’s aware that she’s being watched and behaving accordingly. It’s so smart for Brie to make this an issue, and to use her power to request a disabled woman of color to interview her. I also buy that Brie is really this person, that she’s trying and she wants to use her power for these kinds of things, and that she’s giving away her money and all of that. She’s a good person. I’m proud of her.

Women In Film 2018 Crystal + Lucy Awards Presented By Max Mara And Lancome

Cover courtesy of Marie Claire UK, additional photo courtesy of WENN.

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50 Responses to “Brie Larson requested a disabled woman of color for her Marie Claire UK interview”

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  1. Case says:

    How awesome of her. There is an example a simple change celebrities can make to be more inclusive. She seems really cool and down to earth.

  2. Tiffany says:

    I have always liked Bree and I am super stoked for Captain Marvel.

  3. Valiantly Varnished says:

    Brie’s activism doesn’t feel performative to me at all. Not like say Jessica Chastain’s or a few others I could name. Brie seems like she genuinely wants to make a difference and is putting her money where her mouth is. I cane to really like her during the Oscars when she had to present Casey Affleck his award. Her abject disgust was refreshing in an industry where people pretend and overlook things for appearances. I genuinely like her and I’m rooting for Captain Marvel to be great.

    • Dee says:

      I don’t know about this. What are you referring to? I googled her presenting him the award and she gives him a hug and smiles. What’s the back story?? Dish!

    • Gaby says:

      I do think she is performative but in regards to her career. I don’t know, I don’t really think is bad, I think she should be ambitious, but I get the feeling that she doesn’t want people to think she is ambitious in wanting to be a megastar and if she wants to “break the internet” part of me wish she would own it. She worked hard for recognition, I don’t know why she keeps acting like she never chased fame before.

      But the activism, that feels real to me. I think she really wants to make a change just like billions of women around the world, and she has the means to put her money and power where her mouth is, so I’m glad she is spotlighting these issues and actively fighting them.

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      I forgot about that Casey thing! Golden.

    • SK says:

      See I don’t get the critique of Chastain. Chastain has ensured that Octavia Spencer got equal pay to her – because she listened to an issue Octavia brought up after asking questions and then acted on it. Octavia is the one who first brought up the story (I believe). Jessica has since worked to continue to do this where she can. She is creating content fronted by powerful women in their 30s and 40s. She openly and publicly turns away from men who’ve done awful things – I believe she was one of the first to condemn Weinstein when the first story hit and everyone else (bar just a small handful of people) was deafeningly silent. She is doing her best to improve things. What is wrong with that?

      • ichsi says:

        People accuse her of white feminism, which in my experience is something very wishy washy that’s thrown around way too often to silence people you don’t agree with. Throw around from all different, contradicting sides too. I agree that she’s doing good work, yeah, sure she could do more, but so could we all and none of us will ever be perfect. I appreciate these rich white women with a platform addressing certain issues, we need progress and screaming down people who try to change something, maybe not in always in ways everyone agrees with, as “white feminism” or “performative” or what not doesn’t bring any progress either.

    • Naptime says:

      I think activism is usually performative in the best sense. Jessica is a good one. They’re just trying to help the best way they know. Performative in the worst sense is George Clooney and South Sudan or other fauxmanitarians pretending they know how to help the global south but in reality making it worse – and since it usually takes years to know what happens, they don’t get called out for it.

      Brie is a good egg like Chastain.

  4. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    There’s always going to be a modicum of ‘performative’ in an interview, but her words are worth hearing, and I hope many are listening. She does give me a 90s vibe (favorite decade evah), but let’s not go vintage. Let’s propel her into nouveau hipster. Let them own fresh, untouched, easy, grounded, greatful and generous. We owned it then, and this is a positive I’m happy to hand over lol.

  5. T.Fanty says:

    It can be as performative as she wants it to be, but if she’s putting her money where her mouth is and actually generating work for people who might otherwise be excluded, I’m on board. The bottom line is that everyone talks a big game these days, but she’s using her power to make changes and I love that.

  6. Lindy says:

    It’s an interview and she’s an actor so I think there will always be a little sense of the performative. But the fact that she sought out a scholar with expertise in this area and is working on a plan to ensure that, to the degree she has the power to do so, she’ll give opportunities to women of color, to the differently-abled–that’s huge and that’s focused. It’s not just making a statement about how the industry should be more inclusive, it’s working on concrete ways to do it. I love it, love her!

  7. Croatian says:

    If performative is: I have the power, I know it and I use it to get others some power – I like it!

  8. Doodle says:

    It’s only performative because we’re watching. I get the impression she’d be doing this stuff even if eyes weren’t on her.

  9. Caitrin says:

    I don’t know that it feels performative. But it does feel that she’s matching her words with actions, and openly challenging others to do the same – and that’s a tremendously positive use of privilege.

    • Lilly (with the double-L) says:

      Same @Caitrin and that’s pretty much what I hope for from anyone with some type of platform/privilege (which can be the person next to you in the check-out line). She gets a big thank you from me.

    • ReeseSmith89 says:

      I doubt her activism travels when she’s talking to kevin feige and bob iger

  10. Vicsy says:

    Good fo her. Small request but making a difference. Also love the fact she had visible smile lines on the cover. I almost forgot he genuine smiles looks like on a non frozen/ photoshopped face,

  11. AJ says:

    Usually I really like her putting her money where her mouth is. The one time I was a bit put off was when she hugged every single woman who got on stage with Lady Gaga at the Oscars a few years back. Personally it felt… I don’t know. Just off. Like sure, nice to hug them all but it did feel a bit performed and forced (maybe some of those women didn’t want to stand in line for a hug…??)

    • outoftheshadows says:

      I think it’s true that it felt a bit forced from the outside, but I wondered if she was also a survivor and let them know that in the moment. To us, with the camera turned on her, it seemed very public, but I am willing to bet every one of those women was shaking inside just a little to be on a world stage. From the inside, I bet many of them actually needed a hug. (Just from someone who’s survived abuse–as I’m sure many of you have too.)

      • AJ says:

        I don’t doubt her intentions were good. I just think it wasn’t well thought out and potentially could have had the opposite effect of what she wanted to achieve. Obviously I don’t know how the women felt, it’s JMO.

  12. feebee says:

    I want so much for there to be a like button on these comments, I’ve become a bit Twitterfied and I’m now too lazy to reply to all with a +1.

    She sounds like she’s a bit of superhero in real life. I can see why it can sounds a bit performative but that’s the nature of celebrity interviews. If they’re trying to get their message out it does become, not really rehearsed but, you know over-prepared just because they’re talking to a lot of different people.

    She’s a breath of fresh air and no flash in the pan.

  13. Marty says:

    She’s trying and that’s more than I can say for a lot of actors who dip their pinky toe into activism, *cough* Matt Damon.

    • justwastingtime says:

      Yup Marty ….Matt Damon and activism the guy who white-splanned, man-splanned diversity to a black femaie filmmaker? He still doesn’t get it to this day.

  14. Lucy says:

    Totally! Always thought she was a good gal. I follow her on Instagram and her throwback posts are hilarious. She’s really funny!

  15. lucy2 says:

    This is great, and exactly what people should do – when you reach a new level of power or success, bring others up with you. Brie seems to get that, and really does seem down to earth. She’s also a really talented actress, so I’m glad to see her getting such great opportunities.

  16. CharliePenn says:

    All white people should be doing this. I attended a lecture held by black community organizers about how to support black people in our city. The number one thing they stressed is that we can all hire black people if we want to be allies.
    There are enough white people out here who wouldn’t hire someone just because s/he is black. We need to counteract that bullshit. There are black business associations that you can look to, and call up a black business first when you need work done or services etc.
    I’m glad she’s talking about it.

    • outoftheshadows says:

      Money=power, and yes, we should all spread it around if we want to be allies. I’d add that networking with people of color actually opens you up to a whole community of accomplished people, many of whom have a tremendous work ethic, so it’s a tremendous benefit to your business as well.

      I feel like this headline is doing a bit of a disservice to the situation–I’d have titled it “Brie Larson requests Keah Brown, a black woman with cerebral palsy, to interview her.” (Otherwise it sounds like she said, “Um, for my interview, can you hire a disabled woman of color to interview me?” and it undermines Brown’s accomplishments.)

    • Amelie says:

      Not just black people, but minorities in general.

  17. Sparker says:

    Impressive and a little scary, because it now she’s got to be trusted to check that she’s not responding in a “white” way to “black” culture. We both need to meet in the middle and check our respective privileges. You need to calibrate first before you can really communicate and sometimes people don’t get that, we expect people to see things from our perspective and we can be reactive when they don’t. She’s using her privilege to advance support but what happens next?

  18. me says:

    I notice this all the time as a woc. I’ll gt into a business and look around, notice EVERYONE working there is White. I’m like HOWWW??? I live in a multi-cultural city. Something is not right. I’m not in the position to hire anyone or I would make sure my workforce represents the many cultures my city is made up of.

    • Wow says:

      In my case I know exactly what happened. I’m a black woman…… raised by upper class black parents in a nice Jewish neighborhood with access to the best schools, opportunities and an understanding of how to play the game. I am a less “offensive” black because my parents kept us around the better, whiter opportunities.

      Communities are set up to fail from the start by creating poor education quality at an early age, that mixed traditional African American vernacular being seen as hostile, offensive or ignorant regardless of experience or education.

      I get to work in my lab in a Hospital that has 6% poc employment because I was raised with access to privilege. My husband has to do labor jobs with an engineering degree because he was arrested after a stop and frisk with two joints at 19 and has a felony drug charge on his record.

      Same race, completely different stories and my side is not common. People in predominantly minority communities simply do not have access to the same opportunities. There is racism, AND classism at play in the racial inequalities.

      STOP FUNDING EDUCATION BY PROPERTY TAXES AND LEAVING LOW INCOME AREAS WITH NOTHING! its really not that hard to evenly distribute educational funding, but they dont. California is one of the biggest culprits of that nonsense.

  19. Birds eye view says:

    As long as she walks th talk that’s cool.

  20. SlightlyAnonny says:

    I’ve liked her since United States of Tara. This is how you use your power well and wisely. This is how you spend your capital.

  21. Slowsnow says:

    I’d like to know a bit more about the journalist and hear less praise about Brie because at the end of the day this is gonna revert back to her. Which is fine. Anyway I think we should know more about journalists, politicians, writers, activists than stars. I read CB because at least here we make fun of their ridiculously privileged lives and I learn about other women’s experiences.

  22. MSat says:

    I can’t wait to see Captain Marvel on the big screen!

    Also.. I wish I could wear that color pink in the bottom photo. Redheads with pale skin just can’t pull it off. :-(

  23. jwoolman says:

    She probably can get much better questions and follow up questions from most interviewers who are not white or at least not male. At least it seems that way on tv news shows for interviewers and also commentators. It’s a cultural difference between men and women, we even use language differently. Also we usually don’t have to overcome the training in King of the Mountain behavior that boys get from an early age.

    Looking for women who are also dealing with physical challenges likewise maximizes the chance for a good interviewer, I think. Broader experiences bring more diversity and depth to any journalist. The skills still need to be acquired, but the path taken is necessarily different than for white men, who are more likely to be encouraged by everybody around them and are judged by different standards. They can still be good at their jobs, but diversity is an asset.

  24. Here or there says:

    I like her. I’m not a big fan of going to the movies, but I will see Captain Marvel because I think it’s time for more female heroes and she seems legit.

  25. Lotal says:

    I really like her she seems to be genuinely trying to make a difference. Can’t wait to see captain marvel.

  26. Sparkly says:

    I think I’ve only ever seen her in that movie Room, but I really like her.

  27. Annaloo. says:

    Brie,

    This is wonderful, but also make sure you get a good money manager (or learn how to manage money) so that it lasts and empowers you all through your life so you can continue your platform. Do not just give your money away, willy nilly- no matter how honorable the cause – without thought to sustaining your independence and power.

  28. CaptBarbie says:

    She has always come across as fake to me. Always. From her relationships (yes they are), to her contrived interviews, to all of it. She does it for her, for her career.

    Having said that, even if she isn’t totally altruistic, because she isn’t, the benefits are still there with what she is doing. Same as the Hollywood actress #metoo movement, which is fake at the top, but still has trickle down benefit. So kudos for that,