Naomi McDougall-Jones – TRANSCRIPT
Hello. I’m going to begin today with a story and end with a revolution. Are you ready?
Here’s the story. All my life I wanted to be an actress. From the time I was very small I could feel the magic of storytelling and I wanted to be a part of it. So, at the ripe age of 21, I graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and ready to take my rightful place as the next Meryl Streep.
That’s my grandmother, not Meryl Streep. Now, it’s important for this story that you understand that I was raised by a raging feminist. I mean, just to give you some idea, when I was five or six years old and obsessed with “The Sound of Music,” and running around singing “I am 16 going on 17” all day, every day, my mother sat me down for a very serious conversation, and she said, “Okay, look I’m not going to say that you can’t sing that song, but if you are going to sing that song, I do need you to understand the extremely problematic gender constructs that it reinforces.” So that’s where I come from.
So it just honestly never even occurred to me that I would be prevented from doing anything in my life because I’m a woman. Okay, so I graduate and start auditioning, and I get work, slowly, but I just start noticing that the parts available for women are terrible. I mean, remember, I came here to play smart, willful, complicated, interesting, complex, confident female characters, right? Like Meryl. And all of the sudden I am wrestling with 300 other gorgeous, talented women to play “[Female] No dialogue. The character only needs to stand on a balcony, look forlorn, and walk back inside the house. Only partial nudity.”