Cate Blanchett said starring as anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly in “Mrs. America” felt important to analyzing the political realm the U.S. finds itself in today.
“There’s no reason to delve back into history, whether it’s deep history, or recent history like Mrs. America, unless it reveals something about the times in which we live,” Blanchett said during a Variety Streaming Room. “The words, the phrases, the situations that we found ourselves in as characters, seemed to be just literally mirroring the things that were happening in politics and society in America generally.”
After a screening of the episode entitled “Shirley,” moderator and Variety editor at large Kate Aurthur held a Q&A with crew from the FX on Hulu limited series “Mrs. America.” She was joined by Blanchett, who is also an executive producer for the show, as well as creator, executive producer and showrunner Dahvi Waller, producer and writer Tanya Barfield and actors Margo Martindale, Uzo Aduba and Tracey Ullman.
The limited series brings audiences back to the 1970s, depicting early feminists’ fight for equality. It centers around conservative Schlafly and feminists like Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Alice Macray, Bella Abzug and Betty Friedan.
During the conversation, the group discussed how they researched for their roles, the connections their story has with today’s political situations and the complexities and downfalls of early feminism. During the conversation, which was recorded last year, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden selected Kamala Harris as his running mate. Reflecting on the announcement, Aduba noted that her character Shirley Chisholm — a Black woman from who ran for Democratic nomination in the 1972 presidential election — had been fighting for a similar office years ago.
Intersectional feminism had not yet come about during her run, and Aduba added that it’s still an ongoing fight to this day to push for racial equality even in the women’s rights movement.
“I thought it was important (the actors) showed those blind spots as we were breaking into what we now call intersectionality, created by Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw,” she said. “And it made me sad, just as you were breaking to us who the VP pick here is now on the Democratic ticket. Watching those overt and sometimes subverted blind spots play out, it makes me wonder just how much further we could be along in the story had everybody really seen it for what it was — hose challenges they were having recognizing Shirley’s ability and that she was entirely capable.”
Watch the full conversation above.