Olivia Wilde got real about the gender politics she already sees pushed on her son and daughter
Though Olivia Wilde was among the talented group of women directors snubbed for Golden Globes nominations this year, it’s clear she’s found her perfect role in the director chair. Booksmart, Wilde’s directorial debut, was an opportunity for her to break free from the restricting societal expectations placed on her—and encourage others to do the same.
In an interview for InStyle, conducted by Booksmart star Beanie Feldstein, Wilde spoke about how she’s always refused to be just one thing, and how people don’t always know how to handle that. Now, at home, she sees those same “definitions” are already being placed on her kids, Daisy and Otis.
“That feeling of being misunderstood starts in adolescence,” Wilde told Feldstein. “In high school, people place definitions on you, and then you spend your adult life slowly unraveling them.”
“People always resented that I wouldn’t pick a lane,” she added. “And a lot of the fiery passion in Booksmart was my answer to that.”
As massive fans of Booksmart, we have to nod along to everything Wilde is saying. But where it gets even more concerning is how Wilde describes these definitions and expectations, often aligned with gender norms, already playing a role in her children’s lives. Her daughter, Daisy, with partner Jason Sudeikis, is 3 years old, born in 2016. Their son, Otis, is 5, born in 2014.
"With Daisy, I have witnessed how women are born with an incredible amount of strength and that society quickly pushes them to assume the more feminine role," Wilde told Feldstein. "I mean, I love that Elsa is looking pissed off on the Frozen 2 poster, but there’s still an awful lot out there that’s encouraging young women to make themselves the weaker sex."
Because there are so many messages in the world she can’t control, Wilde works to be a director of the narrative in her own home, hoping to break her children free of society’s gender expectations.
"My role is to be a safe zone of support that’ll hopefully counteract what society will inevitably do to them," Wilde said. "When Daisy hits a place where she questions her worth, I want to be the one to remind her of the strength she innately has. But it’s interesting because having a boy and a girl, you really notice gender politics within your own home. She’ll clean up his plate for him after dinner, and I’m like, 'Put that back!'"
With all the barriers she’s broken and the rules she’s unraveled and rewritten, Wilde has a plan for how she wants to help others find their success. Wilde talked about her concept “The Daisy Chain,” which is aptly named after her daughter Daisy.
“The Daisy Chain is about wanting to lift each other up,” Wilde said. “I celebrate it because for a long time women have been told that in order to succeed, we have to push people out of the way.”
As we eagerly await Wilde’s next film, Don’t Worry, Darling (which she’ll also be starring in!), we’ll be watching as the women she’s helped lift up, like Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, continue to succeed. Here’s to more women directing the narratives at home, on the big screen, and everywhere.