Kate Bosworth anchors Netflix’s castaway thriller ‘The I-Land’
Kate Bosworth is universally regarded as a fashion darling, but in her new sci-fi show, “The I-Land,” she wakes up on a deserted island wearing something horrifically basic: a white shirt and khaki pants — which also happens to be the same thing every other character is wearing. Everyone’s memories are completely wiped — blank slates with no idea how they’ve gotten there or who they are. As the show progresses, snippets of the characters’ pasts — and how they’re all interlinked — are revealed. So what’s with the uniforms? Only time will tell.
Co-produced by Bosworth and Neil LaBute, the show (which debuts this week on Netflix) is one of the most anticipated of the fall season. “It’s the idea of nature versus nurture,” Bosworth explains, tucked into a back table at a restaurant on New York’s Lower East Side. “If you and I were to wake up on a deserted island, and something drastic were to happen, would we have souls? Is our instinct ingrained, or is it something we’ve learned through experience? All those themes are explored in a very extreme way throughout the series. Each episode gets more and more intense, and drastically so. The stakes get raised higher and higher. It’s binge-able.”
Bosworth’s character, KC, is what she describes as a “question mark” who remains silent, observing as the other characters run around like they’re in “Lord of the Flies.”
“They get very involved with each other, and irritated with each other, and my character has this restraint that allows her to stand out,” the actress, 36, explains. “She’s the most mysterious. And there’s a reason for that — it’ll be explained.”
As theater and moviegoers know, LaBute is a magnet for both mystery and controversy. Last year, the prominent playwright and screenwriter, known for his portraits of misogynistic men, was abruptly let go by the prestigious Off-Broadway MCC Theater. “We’re committed to creating and maintaining a respectful and professional work environment for everyone we work with,” the theater’s executive editor said at the time.
But Bosworth — who first rose to fame nearly two decades ago in the surfer flick “Blue Crush” — insists that “The I-Land” was nothing but a fun experience. “It’s funny, because [Neil] is so not controversial in person. He is interested in really making people uncomfortable with his work. It’s deliberate — he likes to have audiences react. And he doesn’t mind that it’s polarizing at times. I think that’s probably his favorite type of cinema, and same for me. [Sergio Leone’s] ‘Once Upon a Time in America’ is one of my favorite movies, and yet, when there’s that rape scene, it’s such a tough thing to take, and it makes you so angry and almost turned-off with the movie as a whole. But, sometimes, that’s part of the best cinematic experiences, when you feel totally conflicted. It’s not force-fed to you. Neil doesn’t shy away from that. I thought, probably like many people, that he was just gonna be very dark, but he’s not. He’s so sweet and so nice. He’s one of the most collaborative people I’ve ever worked with.”
Anyone who stalks Bosworth’s Instagram (followers: 810,000) can attest that her most heartfelt collaborations, however, are with her husband, writer and director Michael Polish. The two met in 2011 on the set of “Big Sur” (an adaptation of the Jack Kerouac novel) and married in Montana in 2013. (Bosworth wore a custom Oscar de la Renta gown.) “I really like my director,” she captioned a giddy photo of herself with Michael this July, snapped on the set of their latest film, “Force of Nature” — which wrapped shooting in Puerto Rico just days after she finished chatting with Alexa.
When asked about working with her husband and their production company, Make Pictures, Bosworth becomes happily animated, much like her aforementioned Instagram pic. “At dinner the other night, we were talking to a friend, and Mike said, ‘We don’t have a normal marriage, obviously — in the best way.’ Meaning that all we do is talk about creating and what can we do and, ‘What if we did this?’ and ‘You should play this!’ — all the time.”
Five years ago, the pair tried to make a rule for themselves that the moment the clock struck 6 p.m., they wouldn’t talk about work until the following day. Recalling night one of their new agreement, Bosworth erupts into laughter. “After six, we were gonna be a quote-unquote normal husband and wife. But 6 o’clock comes, and we were literally like, ‘Oh, and — ’… ‘You should — ’… ‘Umm … so how about the weather?’ [Creative work] is just who we are. It’s in our DNA.”
In December 2018, Make Pictures released the film “NONA” (short for “No Name”), about human trafficking, an issue that is very close to Bosworth’s heart. (She produced and completely financed the film; Polish wrote and directed.) “Human traffickers prey on the most vulnerable — if you’re from a broken home, or looking for a better life, or in an abused relationship, or a drug addict. If they can find a vulnerability, they’ll latch on,” says Bosworth, who works closely with CAST, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking. “It’s a strange thing to say, but it’s a beautiful movie, and ultimately, I hope it empowers people to get more involved with the issue.”
Next up is another labor of love: “Tate,” a biopic that Bosworth describes as “a love letter to Sharon”— with filming set to begin this October. (Bosworth will star as Sharon Tate and co-produce the film with Polish, who is also directing.) By design, the film will focus on Tate’s life instead of her shocking death at the hands of the Charles Manson Family. “We’ve been involved in it for three years,” Bosworth explains, “researching truly everything there is to know about her and her life, and the people who knew her and loved her, including her sister, Debra, and her close friends. If we’re successful in telling the story — and I bet my life on it we will be with Michael — people will really feel like they know her, not what happened to her. To know her is to love her, and I really mean that. She had a purity. She was life personified and love personified. It’s such a tragedy that she was defined by tragedy.”
On the home front, the couple recently finished another collab: an extensive renovation on their midcentury Los Angeles home, originally built in 1955. One of Kate’s favorite new rooms is her “dressing room,” where she gets her hair and makeup done, and which houses shoes and “stalls” of clothes. “I try so hard to keep it coordinated, because I’m a Capricorn and I need order. I’m so not a hoarder. I purge all the time, and I get so much joy from that. I archive the pieces that are really special — the Met dresses and, obviously, my wedding dress.”
As for her off-duty style, Kate says she’s still the same tomboy who grew up loving horseback riding (remember her very first film, 1998’s “The Horse Whisperer”?); her favorite quality in a person remains grit.
“Sometimes I struggle when I’m asked, ‘What’s your style?’ Because it evolves from day to day. I suppose it sways between very minimalist and experimental. I have a real passion for new designers and people looking to do different things. I love fashion for the same reason I love my job as an actor: You’re playing a role.”
Kate Bosworth Knows What She Wants
This is how Kate Bosworth styles herself: First, the front-row fixture rifles through her internal catalogue of runway looks. For example, “I’d mentally earmarked an amazing Prabal [Gurung] dress—turquoise, Dolly Parton, mermaid glam,” Bosworth says on a late summer afternoon in New York. “Keep that one in the back of your head if something arises.” Her brain is like Cher’s computerized closet in Clueless; as a teen, Bosworth was accepted to Princeton but deferred admission. According to her husband, director Michael Polish, she reads “40 or 50” books a year.
The moment for the Prabal dress soon came in the form of an invite to present at this summer’s CMT Awards, but Bosworth isn’t one to have her people call Gurung’s people. Instead — step two — she texts or emails the designer, a fashion fantasy that trumps even Net-a-Porter same-day delivery. (“It’s always such a dream to collaborate with Kate,” Gurung says of the experience.) In addition to copious “crazy cat photos” of her rescues, Teak & Neko, Bosworth’s phone is filled with exchanges with Erdem Moralioglu; Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez; Kym Ellery, whose “weird, drippy silhouettes” she is coveting; and her close friend Jason Wu, with whom she vacations at Tulum’s Hotel Esencia.
Earlier this year, “She saw a Resort pink jumpsuit, and she texted: ‘Jason, can I have this for this event?’ It was in a box within 30 minutes,” Wu tells TZR. “With Kate, there is always just one option. She knows exactly what she wants.” Because Bosworth lives in Los Angeles and Wu in New York, fittings are done via FaceTime, with the designer giving notes to Bosworth’s tailor.
Bosworth explains through bright magenta lips, after we bond over our shared astrological sign, “You can see it, being a Capricorn too, the need to be the person putting the pieces together.”
The literal pieces that Bosworth is reaching for this fall are sleek, tailored, take-charge suits (earlier this year Gabriela Hearst lent her a sharp, berry-colored suit straight from her own closet). “I’ve always loved Katharine Hepburn in that iconic visual,” Bosworth says. “There’s something about it that feels like a relaxed confidence. Like, ‘I can be a boss, but be chill about it.’”
The fashion-obsessed actress is dressing for the newly “boss, but chill about it” phase of her career. Seventeen years after emerging bikini-clad from the surf in Blue Crush and 13 years after diving into the role of Lois Lane in Superman Returns, 36-year-old Bosworth is leveling up: both starring and making her television executive producing debut in Netflix’s new sci-fi series, The I-Land, which has been branded a hybrid of Lost and, ahem, Fyre Festival; and starring and co-producing Tate, the forthcoming Sharon Tate biopic she’s been shooting with Polish.
Bosworth says she was growing tired of the built-in limits on an actor’s contributions. “You show up, you have your lines learned, you might have some creative collaboration in terms of the character, or you might not,” she says. “And then you go home, and that’s it.” Like many other actresses of her generation, Bosworth found herself ready —finally — to call the creative shots. “I like to have a seat at the table. If I see something that’s happening and I can’t help, it drives me crazy,” she says. “It was a natural progression for me to officially become a producer.”
Bosworth says “officially” because, in fact, she’d been a producer before in all but name, consulting on scripts, giving casting notes, and poring over edits. The I-Land just marks one of the first times she’s getting credit for that work.
“It was Mike who said, ‘You should own the title. You are producing this. Ask for a producing title,’” Bosworth — in frayed white cut-off shorts and a yellow cropped Levi’s logo tee, her hair still in a tight topknot from the TZR shoot — tells me.
The exchange is a little glimpse into the intensely loving artist/muse relationship between Bosworth and Polish, who she met when he directed her in the 2013 Jack Kerouac adaptation Big Sur. Polish says he knew within seconds that there was a spark: “I said, ‘Uh-oh. If I’m not with this person, I’m going to have to leave the country.’”
Bosworth was equally enchanted. “Sometimes he’s my muse, sometimes I’m his muse. We always say it’s an interchangeable title.” She smiles as she talks about her husband, who just wrapped directing her in Force of Nature, an action movie set in the midst of a hurricane that had Bosworth dodging bullets and dangling from wires on the Puerto Rico set with co-stars Mel Gibson and Emile Hirsch. She likens the couple’s artistic shorthand to that of “Leo and Scorcese” or Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodóvar: “Honestly, sometimes, it’s hard to have faith in things… and to have someone who you feel like gives you faith in the process, gives you faith in humanity, gives you faith in yourself… it just helps.”
The couple first bonded over whiskey, but they flirted over fashion — specifically a pair of Burberry boots Bosworth was wearing on the Monterey County, California, set of Big Sur. “He looks at me, and he’s like, ‘Oh those are cool boots… Who makes them?’” she recalls. Bosworth cringed at the prospect of label-dropping with the “well-respected, critically acclaimed” director. At times, she has worried that her interest in clothes somehow made her less of an artist. “For a while, in my late twenties, I felt apologetic… like, ‘Can I be an actress and be serious about it and also love fashion?’” she says. Stereotypes about the industry didn’t help, even though she didn’t identify with them. “I’ve never associated with [its] snobbiness or ‘You can’t sit with us’ energy. I don’t believe in that. It’s not like I sit there and I judge it, I just don’t want to participate, you know?”
Polish later revealed that Bosworth’s interest in clothes was a draw for him. “I love that you know fashion and you love fashion,” Bosworth remembers her future husband saying. “‘You’ve gotta own that. Don’t apologize for that.’”
When Bosworth started out in the ‘90s, “It would be weird to say that you had a stylist. It wasn’t what it is today. And I also was… 16? And lived in a small town [outside] Boston,” she says. Now that it would be decidedly not weird, “I like doing it myself because it’s really about my relationships with designers.”
Those relationships have led to some of her most iconic looks, including the ethereal Oscar de la Renta gown and veil that the house’s lead designers, Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, created for Bosworth for the 2018 Met Gala’s “Heavenly Bodies” theme. She recalls “a moment where we were not sure if we were going to commit to the veil or not, and ultimately we just had a gut instinct to go for it. It turned out to be one of my favorite aspects of the look.”
Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler, who have known Bosworth since the early days of their design house, describe Bosworth as “a natural”: “Kate’s the real deal. We are cool sending her things [because] we know that she will take our work and twist it into her own vibe and make it look effortless and utterly cool.” Bosworth’s ongoing decision to manage her own look makes sense to them. “If you have a natural gift for it, why hire a stylist?”
Bosworth now has the authority to fully apply her creative gift in her film work. Last year, through Make Pictures, the production company she owns with Polish, Bosworth remotely produced and fully financed Nona, a staggering look at human trafficking, while Polish shot in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the so-called murder capital of the world. Up next for the duo is Tate, which Polish says he has been shooting “under the radar… because we just didn’t want all of the attention while, you know, Mr. Tarantino’s thing was going on.” He and Bosworth are co-producing with Sharon’s sister Debra Tate, who initially raised concerns about her sister’s depiction in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (before later coming around).
“[Sharon Tate] is still a footnote,” Bosworth says, mentioned only in the context of the crime committed against her. “That doesn’t define the woman she is, and in fact, in many ways, that’s a horrifically offensive thing.”
By contrast, Bosworth insists that Tate “doesn’t even touch her death in any way. The killers are not mentioned. It only focuses on celebrating who she is.” (Put another way, Polish says his wife is striving to “take the megaphone from the maniac.”)
Their passion for the project is evident in the first photos of Bosworth in character, revealing a striking resemblance to Tate. “There are times where I’m photographing Kate, and it’s Sharon,” Polish marvels. “I think Kate identifies with somebody being beautiful and being judged, because there are times now that Kate won’t get a part in a movie because she’s too pretty. I mean, that comes right down the pipeline.’” He adds “I don’t truly believe there’s another Sharon Tate, just like there’s not another Kate Bosworth.”
But beyond their flaxen hair and elegant profiles, Bosworth cites an “innate,” almost spiritual connection with the late golden girl.
“She’s with us all the time,” Bosworth says.
With their lives and careers so closely intertwined, “I looked at Michael the other day, and I was like, ‘Sh*t, we better never get divorced,’ you know?” she laughed. “We kind of joke with each other.”
The pair is often praised as #couplegoals on Instagram—Polish is a deft Instagram Husband who posts artful black-and-white shots of Bosworth — but Bosworth insists their marriage is “real,” too. “It gets a little bit intense when it’s overtime on a film. I’m wet and cold and tired, and he’s been working longer than I have,” she says. “Exhaustion, hunger, the things that would make anyone kind of cranky, are basically on steroids.”
For the next step in Bosworth’s Hollywood evolution, Polish is pushing his wife to direct. The idea makes her squirm, but she’s not ruling it out. Earlier in her career, “I just remember feeling very vulnerable all the time,” she says. “I moved to L.A. when I was 18, on my own, and there’s so much loneliness in that,” to say nothing of the rejection and criticism. Now, “It’s kind of like becoming a senior in high school. You go from freshman year where you feel so awkward and you’re hating yourself. And then you’re a senior and you’re like, “Oh, who cares?”
These days, Bosworth is not only self-styled, but self-possessed. If she finds out, “‘Oh, they chose this person over you,’ or ‘They thought you weren’t good at this,’ you just move on,” she says. “There’s no looking back, there’s no wallowing. I just have to keep going.”
Emile Hirsch has released new music and Kate Bosworth is starring in the video.
“‘Love Is Real’ is a celebration of love,” Hirsch said in a statement.“Love triumphing over the cynicism of a modern age where it feels sidelined and diminished, but it hasn’t; How opening your heart and experiencing real love can make someone who has been lost feel whole again.”
He added, “When they hear this song, I hope people are moved and inspired to dance and live their lives to the fullest. Sometimes we all need reminding that Love Is Real.”
The video was directed by Bosworth’s hubby Michael Plish and filmed in Puerto Rico.
In the autumn, Hirsch will be releasing a full-length album MNEMONIC.
Kate Bosworth teams up with husband and filmmaker Michael Polish for their self-financed film Nona, short for No Name, which tells the story of a girl from Honduras who meets a charming boy who promises her safety in America, only to be led into the world of sex trafficking.
The actress sat down with The Hollywood Reporter In Studio to discuss the film’s heavy subject matter and why it was important to tell this story.
“So much of the reason that we wanted to make this movie was to inform how this happens and why it happens, because so often we get the result,” she said.
“Like this massage parlor was busted and that’s the result. Or this sex house was busted and that’s the result. There’s these girls and that is the thing that you hear about but so often, it’s not explained how does this happen and why does someone decide to do it, or how does this person end up in this situation.”
Bosworth, who executive produced the film, also spoke on self-financing the project in order to have Polish’s vision come through on screen.
“So much of this has to do with why we self-financed it. First of all, the subject matter is a tough sell. Period. It’s heavy,” she explained. “The fact that [Polish] was adamant about it being in Spanish because he said that if there’s a young girl in San Pedro Sula, Honduras with very little education, she’s not going to be fluently speaking English at that point in her life.”
She continued: “And he wanted to cast an unknown Latino girl. All these things were elements where people were like, ‘But could you cast so-and-so.’ And Michael was, ‘Well, I really want her to be faceless and nameless, because it’s the point of the movie. No Name. You don’t know her name, you don’t know her face, and then ultimately by the end, you do.’ That’s sort of the whole point of the movie. So, there were things people wanted from us in order to green light it and he was pretty adamant about the authenticity of it.”
The actress has worked on previous films with Polish, including 90 Minutes in Heaven, Big Sur and Amnesiac. Speaking on him, she told THR, “I think being a part of this movie and knowing Michael, and knowing his work is just knowing you will not fail when you work with him. He won’t let you. It’s such an amazing, immersive, creative experience.”
Watch the video above to hear Bosworth also discuss the film’s stars, worrying about Polish’s safety in Honduras and more.
Kate Bosworth and director Michael Polish’s Make Pictures Productions is developing a docuseries with journalist Andrew Bevan and Wilshire Studios, the parties have announced. Billed as a teen series and as yet untitled, the project has director Polish (Nona) on board as a co-executive producer with co-creators Bosworth and Bevan.
The docuseries is envisioned as unveiling young adults from across the country revealing themselves through a combination of investigative journalism and offbeat storytelling. “Each episode reminds us that, despite the vast scope of our ever-evolving and unraveling world, we alone define ourselves and the choices we make,” according to a statement by the parties.
Bosworth’s past projects include Superman Returns and Blue Crush, while Bevan has spent time as a journalist (Vogue, Architectural Digest, Harper’s Bazaar), creative content director for 6 Degrees, brand strategist (Chanel, Levi’s, Nike) and is the former Teen Vogue Style director/editor.
Bosworth is repped by CAA, Management360 and Alex Kohner at Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman. Polish is repped by Oren Segal at Management Production Entertainment and Alex Kohner at Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman. Bevan is repped by Jon Levin at Fourward.
Wilshire Studios produces such series as Netflix series The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell; E!’s late night talk show Busy Tonight with Busy Philipps; Oxygen’s Unspeakable Crimes: The Killing of Jessica Chambers; Emmy-nominated Mysteries & Scandals; and the inaugural E!’s People’s Choice Awards.
Make Pictures Productions was formed in 2017 as a joint venture between husband-and-wife team Polish and Bosworth. Nona, which received the Richmond International Film Festival’s Founder’s Award in 2018, is the first feature co-produced by the company. Its upcoming slate includes sci-fi film Genesis and the Sharon Tate biopic Tate.
If anyone knows the ins and outs of Hollywood, it’s Kate Bosworth, whose acting career started when she was just 15. In the years since her 1998 debut film The Horse Whisperer, the actor has starred in many successful projects, but her newest role is that of producer. Along with her husband, Michael Polish, Bosworth created a production company and opened a film school in Montana in 2018. And now, she’s teamed up with Chloe Wine Collection and Women In Film to hold the 2019 She Directed female filmmakers contest, which will set up four aspiring women directors with mentorships, and one with a $10K cash prize.
The ultimate goal of the contest, Bosworth (who’s one of the judges) says, is for there to be more representative stories told in Hollywood. “What I hope people will do with this initiative is to really be inspired and challenged to tell a story that’s unique to them, [because] the stories that I’ve always loved most in my life are… ones that are unique or different or something that I hadn’t really thought of before,” she explains, speaking via phone.
Bosworth isn’t just encouraging other women to share their work through directing and writing, though — she’s also using her producing cred to tell stories about underrepresented people Her company’s recent movie, Nona, for instance, which came out in December and is available on-demand, co-stars Bosworth and follows a girl from Honduras named Nona (Sulem Calderon) who tries to migrate to the U.S., but instead falls victim to a human trafficking ring.
With Nona, Bosworth hoped to raise awareness about human trafficking, which is a colossal issue; according to a 2017 report from the International Labor Organization, 3.8 million adults were victims of forced sexual exploitation in 2016. “If it were more in the open, people would rise up and just refuse to accept this because it is modern day slavery,” says Bosworth. Nona makes clear that these victims aren’t faceless statistics. “Our aim and our hope for the movie was to connect with a deeper sense of humanity with the issue and also to connect with a deeper sense of empathy,” explains the actor “It’s not just someone else’s problem… These are human beings.”
Nona was self-funded — “I quite literally put my money where my mouth was in this one,” says Bosworth — and it’s an example of the real work the star is doing to depict greater representation on-screen. It’s a passion she’s always had, even before she started working behind-the-scenes. She recalls how, with her 2008 film 21, she requested a re-write on her character, Jill, to be made more realistic. Says the actor, “The way [Jill] was originally written was like, [wearing] high heels running around the campus. There wasn’t a lot to her.” Luckily, she was able to collaborate with the film’s writer to enhance the character. “I was just lucky that I had a collaborator who was willing to listen to a young woman at the time,” Bosworth says.
Other times, Bosworth wasn’t so lucky when attempting to change aspects of her characters. “I’ve had a lot of other moments where it’s like, ‘pat on the head, we don’t really need your opinion, just say the line,'” she recalls. She did have a great experience playing Anne Marie Chadwick in 2002’s blockbuster Blue Crush, a character she deems a great example of a complex on-screen woman. Then-Vice President of Universal Pictures, Donna Langley, and producer Brian Grazer, were committed to making Blue Crush as realistic as possible, says Bosworth — even though they knew she didn’t share her character’s love of surfing.
“When Blue Crush came to me, I’d never touched a surfboard in my life but I was like, I know this girl and I know what it feels like to want a dream so badly that you’ll crawl across broken glass or drown or whatever it might be,” Bosworth recalls. “There was an affinity to this character that wasn’t for the sport, it was through the actual person, and I love that that movie continues to touch people.”
Since Blue Crush, Bosworth has taken on many different projects she finds important, including a TV show, The I-Land and a movie, The Devil Has a Name, both out this year. “It really matters to me that I hold myself accountable to do the best that I can,” says the actor, “because what’s the point otherwise?” And with her production company and contest, she’s inspiring many others to feel the same.
Kate Bosworth is known for her acting roles in films such as Blue Crush, Still Alice, Superman Returns and Before I Wake, but she also has used her talents behind the camera, producing projects such as the upcoming I-Land, Hot Bot and Amnesiac, so it is not surprising that she is partnering alongside Women In Film and Chloe Wine Collection to provide opportunities for female filmmakers through the launch of She Directed, a campaign and contest that celebrates women in the director’s chair.
“I teamed up with Chloe Wine Collection and Women in Film to help launch She Directed because the film industry is constantly challenged by gender disparity,” she tells Parade.com in this exclusive interview. “Women account for only a small fraction of directors. It’s important to support women in the director’s chair and increase the opportunities for female filmmakers.”
Bosworth has yet to direct her first film, but as mentioned, she is putting her behind-the-scenes skills to use as a producer, and as such, has the just released Nona, available on VOD.
It is the story of a girl from Honduras (Nona), who is searching for a better life in the United States. Through her journey, she is sadly sold into sex trafficking. It was written and directed by Bosworth’s husband Michael Polish, while she served as executive producer and fully financed the film.
“We cast a relatively unknown Latina actress (Sulem Calderon) and the movie is entirely in Spanish,” Bosworth says. “It was important to us to keep the authenticity totally intact in order to tell the purest version of the story for these victims. We felt compelled to tell the narrative story of one girl, so that audiences will better understand the HOW and the WHY an individual is sold into human trafficking.
“These are our daughters, sisters, wives, mothers. So often the statistics of human trafficking will eclipse the humanity and empathy for these individuals. With NONA – we seek to give a face to this global epidemic, and through our art, contribute to making the world a better place.”
Do you think the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements inspired this contest and other female-led initiatives?
I absolutely believe these movements have helped acknowledge the need for more female led initiatives and in that sense, have also helped to inspire more female-forward stories in the entertainment industry. Initiatives like She Directed are so critical at the moment. They are a call to action not only for female filmmakers to create and submit their stories, but also to be rewarded so that they can continue telling their stories. I applaud brands like Chloe Wine Collection for walking the walk. It takes support from all sides — brands included — to move the dial.
One of the goals of the contest — in addition to the cash prize — and maybe a more important one — is to provide the four winning female filmmakers with a professional mentorship.
I am such a big believer in the significance of mentorships. I always communicate to young filmmakers/artists the great value of seeking out mentors. I did not have one myself and I wish I had been more proactive about that when I was younger. I felt too shy or that I would be bothering someone in asking for their time and guidance — and that is so far from the truth. Now, having more than 20 years of experience in the entertainment industry, I offer myself as a mentor to so many young artists. I feel it is absolutely my duty, and an honor to do so. To be a part of someone’s creative growth is an incredibly inspiring experience.
Tell us about the Montana Institute of the Arts that you launched with your husband and how it’s similar to your current work with She Directed.
Yes! We went MIA! Montana is a very important state to Michael and myself. Michael has a lot of family heritage there and we were married there. It’s the perfect place for creativity and yet it is the least funded/supported state for film or the arts. We decided to contribute by starting a two week intensive program in July — guiding the students to bring their stories from script to screen. Teaching at MIA has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my career. A great example of supporting young female story tellers: one of our female students wrote a great script (and through an acting class, I noticed she is also a great actress). She wrote the main character of her short as a man. When I asked her why, she explained that writing for men was what she was used to doing. Michael and I had her change the main character to a female and encouraged her to play the lead character. She did just that and she shined. The short was one of the best in the class. That entire team who made that specific short was made up of young women. I was – and still am – really proud of them.
You started your career so young. Did you have a mentor or someone who gave you a helping hand that you want to mention?
As I mentioned above, I wish I had sought out mentors more. I feel like I married a partner who has great influence and guidance to my career. Michael is so incredibly supportive and helps me to understand the dynamics of the industry, particularly from a directing stand point. I also feel closely aligned to Donna Langley (President of Universal Pictures). She began her career at Universal the same year we made Blue Crush together, so we will always have a special connection that way. She is incredibly generous with herself as a mentor, particularly given how busy she is! Donna is truly a phenomenal human being.
Will you ever begin directing yourself?
One piece of advice I give to young filmmakers: “Tell your story. The one no one else can tell.” I’m looking for mine. Producing has been a great transition to begin working behind the camera. I am learning so much — from concept to delivery of the picture.
You are starring in the new Netflix series The I-Land. What was it that intrigued you about the project to play the role?
I can’t say much without giving too much away, but I was very intrigued with the concept of instinct. What makes a person who they are? Is it something you are born with or something you learn through experience? These are questions that fascinate me, and thematically I am drawn to both in story and character development. I also produced this series with Netflix and that was an incredibly rewarding experience for me, they are an incredible company to collaborate with.
You also have the movie The Devil Has a Name?
This was such a great movie experience for me. Eddie Olmos [Edward James Olmos] is extraordinary, as a director, as an actor, and most importantly as a person. He is a true original. He allows for pure creative space for everyone involved in the project. It’s a wonderful experience, working with him this way. And he brings an enormous amount of joy to every relationship on set. I would do anything for him. He’s a legend.
Can you tell us about your evolving career and how you were able to transition back and forth between film and TV?
I feel so lucky to have had the career I have experienced and continue to experience. I fell into this industry by accident when I was 14 (Though is anything really an accident? Who knows?). I have done my best to choose roles that fulfill me and that have integrity. I really adore working on TV. Obviously, it has evolved into a space with great opportunity to explore characters in a deeper and more patient way than 90 minutes can achieve. With that said, I will always remain loyal to the romance of the big screen. She has no comparison that way.
What do you appreciate about being in your 30s? Is there more a sense of confidence? Knowing who you are? Taking the bull by the horns when there is something you desire?
Funny you say that. One of the characters I am developing at the moment is a female bull rider. So yes. Without a doubt.