×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mindy Kaling, Constance Wu on Working With Women Directors: ‘Nothing Felt Exploitative’

Constance Wu (“Hustlers”) and Mindy Kaling (“Late Night”) discussed the importance of women directors during a conversation for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.”

Kaling began the interview by acknowledging how having female directors on “Hustlers” and “Late Night” benefited the films.

“[‘Hustlers’ director Lorene Scafaria] doesn’t come from a place of, ‘Oh, let’s humanize this woman,'” Wu said. “She already understands that this is how she’s going to frame her story within the context of something that you would think would have the male gaze because it’s about women who work in strip clubs.”

“I remember thinking nothing felt exploitative,” Kaling said. “As [a] woman, I love seeing beautiful women dance, but the way that [‘Hustlers’] was shot, there was nothing prurient, which I thought was really refreshing.”

“On a producer standpoint, I feel like I can’t come to these things and talk about how important it is that we have representation and then hire some white dude to direct my movie,” Kaling continued. “So ‘Late Night’ stars two women who are ambitious, professionally, and I just felt like having a female director would make sure the movie didn’t position ambition as a negative quality.”

Wu then told Kaling about an experience on a different set: “I was working on a project and it was a scene where a guy did something bad to me and I’m angry at him. The director kept trying to be like, ‘Can you just soften it a little bit?’ I trust the director, he wants his movie to be good, so I did. I made it gentler. One of the producers, who was a woman, came out and she was like, ‘No. As a woman, I’m annoyed that she’s playing this soft, sweet … let her have some teeth.’ It felt more free, it felt more human.”

“That’s what’s so nice about ‘Hustlers,'” Kaling said. “In this movie, I know that you’re committing crimes, but I want all of you to be set free.”

“Yeah, because we’re people,” Wu said. “We’re not ideas and you know that people are flawed and might make mistakes, but they’re trying their best in a system that hasn’t cared that much for them.”

Variety’s “Actors on Actors” issue is on newsstands now. The Emmy-nominated companion series will air on PBS stations and the World Channel starting in January. Check back for more from Kaling, Wu and the other best actors from this year’s film season.

Watch the full interview below:

More Film

  • Better-Days

    Macao: Hot Bets, Short Odds And Sure Things in the 2019 IFFAM Program

    Macao may be renowned for gambling, but the 4th International Film Festival & Awards of Macao (IFFAM) features more than a few sure bets. Oscar-watchers should look out for Taika Waititi’s opening film “Jojo Rabbit”; Rupert Goold’s biopic of Judy Garland, “Judy,” which looks likely to land Renée Zellweger a best actress nomination; and Terrence [...]

  • Yao Chen in “Send Me to

    'Clouds' Director Teng Congcong on Being a Conservative Chinese Feminist

    As hot money flees the China film market and financing dries up, the romantic film genre will actually become more attractive for investors, assesses Teng Congcong, director of the recent Chinese romantic drama “Send Me To the Clouds.” “Things used to be moving in the direction of big budget blockbusters, but the financing that’s leftover [...]

  • I'm Livin' It

    Films From Macau and China Take the IFFAM Spotlight

    The fourth edition of the International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM), which opened last night (December 5) at the Macao Cultural Center, is positioned as one of the key events celebrating the 20th anniversary of the handover of the former Portuguese colony to the People’s Republic of China. Five Macanese features are among the [...]

  • Grand Isle

    Film Review: 'Grand Isle'

    A sub-Tennessee Williams potboiler triangle between restless sexpot, impotent husband, and hunky handyman ever-so-slowly congeals into a lumpy gumbo of thriller elements in “Grand Isle.” This third directorial big-screen feature for veteran Steadicam operator Stephen S. Campanelli has plenty of potential guilty-pleasure signifiers — not least being top-billed Nicolas Cage’s sixth vehicle this year — [...]

  • Nour-Eddine Lakhmari on Documentary 'Turn the

    Moroccan Director Nour-Eddine Lakhmari on Documentary 'Turn the Light On,' and New Feature

    Moroccan director Nour-Eddine Lakhmari – whose trilogy of films, “Casanegra,” “Zero” and “Burnout,” were major local hits – is completing a documentary for the Marrakech Film Festival Foundation, entitled “Turn the Light On,” about the Foundation’s medical-social campaign, that provides free cataract surgery treatment. The campaign is organized in partnership with the Ministry of Health [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content