Emma Thompson about acting | BAFTA Life in Pictures (Nov. 24, 2013) (x)
YES YES YES YES YES. Thank you, someone, for talking sense. Actresses SHOULD NOT have to starve their asses off for no good reason. They SHOULD, however, have to be able to act their asses off for good reason. I see no reason why someone playing a normal, average, non-model character should have to look like one. Why not choose to glorify actors based on their skill? Imagine the uproar if I said, “You’re a teacher? Well I don’t think you can be a very good one—you won’t make it very far. You have to stand in front of a class and teach and do it well and your students will have to look at you! You have to be 10 lbs. thinner! Why? Because people like to look at thin teachers more than average-sized ones! You think it matters that they have the capacity to be totally fascinated with what you’re teaching or that you teach it better than anyone else? Please!”
I think you’d be surprised how much as a teacher I am scrutinized and judged based on my appearance.
I didn’t mean to step on any toes or to imply that teachers’ lives were easy or anything. My mom is a teacher and I have nothing but respect and admiration for the work you do. I just picked an arbitrary career for the comparison. Of course there’s an unreasonable standard in society in general that favors beautiful people regardless of profession. That’s well effed-up too and not to be minimized. My point was that it’s more obvious how ridiculous it is to judge a person of ANY other profession based both initially and principally on appearance.
In the acting field, beauty is presumed to be one of the most important parts of actors’ jobs regardless of the role they’re playing (barring the rare cases in which the actors’ jobs are primarily to be perceived as ugly). Grown adults would immediately be dismissed by most other grown adults as shallow and discrimnatory if this conversation took place: “I don’t like Dr. Smith, I don’t think she’s a very good dentist.” “Why not? I think she’s really great! She did my route canal last year and she made it bearable.” “Well…she’s just not very PRETTY.” “What does that matter?” “Well, you have no choice but to look at at dentist—they’re right there over you.” Does that illustrate my point better? Not that people are judged to an unreasonable degree based upon physical appearance (although that’s true), but that it’s widely perceived as bad form to consider beauty to be part of the responsibility of any other profession and somehow acting is exempt from this rule. We’re not models. Our job is not to be beautiful. Our job is to tell stories, provoke thought, and convey truth.