We all know Tavi Gevinson as the teenage phenom who launched her own publishing empire before she graduated high school. But now, the Editor-in-Chief of Rookie magazine can add actress to her resume with a supporting role in Nicole Holofcener’s romantic comedy Enough Said, which had its premier last week at the Toronto Film Festival. While the film centers around a romance between characters played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini, Gevinson figures into a subplot that has her befriending her best friend’s mom (Louis-Dreyfus). We sat down with Gevinson in Toronto to discuss how she landed her first movie part, romantic comedies, and the state of roles for women in Hollywood.
How did this role come about?
I’ve always been a theatre kid, and the most extreme, obnoxious one you can imagine. But acting is kind of a crapshoot to pursue. I liked acting at school and everything, but I wasn’t terribly ambitious about it. But UTA, my agency, approached me and they were like, We understand from your blog and from Rookie that you just have a general sense of who you are, and you might want to express that in different ways. And I said I was interested in acting, and I got this script for Enough Said and read it while I was on a road trip to LA, and auditioned like the day after I got there. And I was kind of in the middle of a fight with a friend and I was kind of upset just before. And so when I went in, I had felt so off, that I felt sure I didn’t get it. But I guess that ended up helping because I knew my character is a little distant and weird and in her own head.
What was it like working with such a great group of women, and for a female director?
When a romantic comedy is good, it’s my favorite kind of movie, like Annie Hall or Celeste and Jesse Forever, which is about romance but doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending. With Nicole it’s more character driven and less about the plot. This was my first experience on a set like this, so I have nothing to compare it to. And I was kind of told it’s all downhill from here, because Nicole just creates such a warm environment.
What do you think of the state of the roles available to women?
Apparently right now, only 23% of speaking film roles are written for women, which is scary. But I also feel like there’s such a strong presence, with actresses like Lena Dunham and Julia and Tina Fey, it feels like there’s not that disconnect. I genuinely don’t feel the need to complain about the roles I see. I think I see a lot of good scripts. The larger disconnect I see is that they’re all about white people. Granted, I am not the first person to say this. People of color have been saying this for years and years and years. I’m not trying to be like, the Lorax of racism in the entertainment industry. But that disconnect has just been more noticeable to me.
Also a lot of the women you’re talking about made their names on television.
Yeah, that’s true! I think TV is probably a little more advanced. And Lena and Mindy and Rashida and Carrie and both Amys, all these women have to write for themselves. Because most of these scripts are written by men. Nicole wrote the world she knows with this film, and there’s a sense of humor about it, too. I was just talking to a journalist that had the good point that I’m one of three younger women in the film and the characters aren’t treated as plot devices. And that little small little thing makes a difference when you are watching the movie. It’s not just like parents and their kids, am I right? You still get a sense that even Tess, the kind of obnoxious daughter, has a complex inner world of her own. That’s why working on Nicole’s movie was so awesome.