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DEC 5th 2015
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Equality Not Hierarchy


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Romola Garai - UK
The Barbara Tipple Best Actress Award
  
Romola Garai
Actress - Writer - Director
 
For her strongly-held outspoken views, her belief in the need to continually challenge the inequality that exists in society, and her choice of roles across film, television and the theatre, Romola Garai is the recipient of TheWIFTS 2015 Barbara Tipple Best Actress Award.

In 2012, Romola Garai wrote, directed and starred in Scrubber, her first short film for which she won Best Female Character at the London Short Film Festival (UK) 2013. Romola Garai is fervently committed to the practice and implementation of gender equality across society. She expounds that actresses are in a vulnerable position in the film and television industry partly because they remain in the minority and the culture of discrimination is particularly rife on many levels in Hollywood. "Producers know that women are going to accept less money, because they have fewer roles to play. Only 30 percent of parts in film and television are for women, so you can't be as choosy."

The same, she maintains, can be said for the perpetuation of attitudes: "I work in an industry where it's still acceptable to humiliate women; you are expected to wear certain clothes because they are selling a show on the way you look. This is at its worst for young actresses. As long as films are being made by five guys who know that 'if she gets her knockers out,' this film will make $10m more, then it's not going to change."

Garai sees working again in Hollywood as probably unlikely, as the discriminatory culture continues to exist. At the age of 21, she was cast in Dirty Dancing sequel Havana Nights. "It was the pressure they put me under to lose weight. In the Hollywood studio system you are just a commodity to sell films with. They view you as merchandise. It's not universally a rape of your liberty; some women don't have an issue with it, and controlling their body is something they do anyway. There are so many actresses who are happy to be on a diet for the rest of their lives. For me the weight thing is a metaphor for control: making women feel weak because they're so insecure, so they won't disagree with the director or studio. Women feel afraid that they're going to lose their careers, afraid of being fat or ageing."

An actor in a broad, and diverse, string of roles and a self-confessed 'bra-burning feminist', Garai is currently starring in Suffragette, the story of the Victorian women's movement. On hearing of the film from her agent, Garai comments: "I really f***ing wanted to do this film. I remember when my agent first told me, 'There's this film they're making about the Suffragettes,' I almost bit through the glass of wine in my hand."

Romola Garai's films include Daniel Deronda, I Capture the Castle, Nicholas Nickleby, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, Vanity Fair, Amazing Grace, and Atonement.

Quoted extracts are from the interview with Stephanie Rafanelli courtesy of the ES (The London Evening Standard Lifestyle Magazine) August 2015.








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