Heather Matarazzo has something to say about Hollywood sexism—and self-esteem
You remember that perfect Inside Amy Schumer episode where 12 angry men sat around a table and decided Schumer’s career-fate based on whether they deemed her “f–kable.” Well, when it comes to Hollywood decision-making that’s not so far from the truth—and it’s just as ridiculous in real life.
It happened to Heather Matarazzo. In an interview with MTV News, the 32-year-old talked at length about a recent blog post in which she revealed that at 19-years-old, she was labeled “unf—-able” by filmmakers, who promptly fired her from a role on totally sexist grounds.
Back in February, our Princess Diaries and Welcome to the Dollhouse soul-sister, first blogged about the experience on AfterEllen.
“When I was 19 or so, I was standing in a Starbucks in West Hollywood with a director, talking about the upcoming film we were about to shoot,” wrote Matarazzo. “I asked him if everything was OK. He said yes. I didn’t believe him, so I asked him again. He looked at me and said, ‘Heather, I’m sorry, we have to give your role to another actor. The producers don’t want you.’ I didn’t understand. I had been attached to this project for two years, and now two weeks before filming, I’m being let go. I asked him why. He looked me dead in the eyes and said, ‘They say you’re not f–kable.’”
The post (which is excellent) received attention for boldly calling out industry sexism. But Matarazzo had another reason to write it: she wanted to share a message about self-esteem.
“The bigger point that I was making in that blog was the perception that I have about myself, and how easy it is to advocate one’s own power based off what other people say,” Matarazzo told MTVNews this week. “You’re saying I’m not f–kable; then that must be true.”
“Getting to the other side of that and saying ‘oh, that’s a lie, that’s actually not true’… that’s when my perception changed about myself,” she continued. “Everything else changed; the roles that I started going out for changed, the description of the characters changed. It doesn’t negate the fact that, of course, there are people that are sexist, that are shallow, that are only looking at the outside in terms of what woman can bring to a screen. But that’s always been the case. For me, [it’s about] personally not believing the hype and the lie, and then getting to see actual change in the opportunities that I’ve been given once I stopped believing that lie that I wasn’t f–kable.”
Matarazzo has gone on to pave an impressive path in Hollywood (hello, she’s going to be in Sisters with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey)—and has become a public advocate for both LGBTQ+ and women’s rights in Hollywood.
Matarazzo also spoke out in support of actress Rose McGowan who was recently fired by her agent after she rallied against the sexist dress codes she faced while auditioning for an upcoming Adam Sandler movie.
“I feel that Rose was incredibly courageous, and that she opened Pandora’s Box for other women that are high profile to come out and support [equality] that might not have done it before,” Matarazzo said in her MTV interview. She also takes great strength from other women in her industry.
“I look to women like Mindy Kaling and Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Amy Schumer… speaking up about the insanity of it all. And also, we do have a choice at the end of the day to say yes or to say no… there have been things that I have passed on where agents at the time were like, ‘you’re crazy, why would you pass on this,’ because it wasn’t something that I personally wanted to be a part of,” she added. “I’m not going to let fear rule my life; I’d rather be able to… know that I’ve made a choice that’s right for me, [rather] than saying yes because I don’t want my agents to be upset with me.”
Amen to that. It’s so inspiring to see women in Hollywood, not only speak out about the double standard, but practice what they preach. And as Matarazzo pointed out, it isn’t just about sexism in Hollywood. There are people in every field, who judge women based on their own baseless, ignorant criteria. The way to combat their damaging labels is to remember that nobody can tell you who you are, but yourself.
“For me…I had to really look at myself and see my beauty,” wrote Matarazzo back in February, “and once I could accept the harsh reality that I was indeed, not only f–kable, but f–king beautiful, everything started to change.”
(Image via Funny or Die)