This was the encompas of Los Angeles Times’ magazine The Envelope, published under Dec. 21, 2017.
Notice anything … painfully obvious?
All actresses gracing the encompas — Margot Robbie, Diane Kruger, Saoirse Ronan, Annette Bening, Jessica Chastain, and Kate Winslet — are white.
The cover’s message — highlighting “a change in the way many narratives are told” — came across as tone deaf and exclusionary at a time when the conversation around racial diversity on screen has taken center stage.
Many people noticed. “I don’t understand how … a cover like this could be approved with this headline, ” one Twitter user said.
@Envelope I don’t understand how after all the conversations on #OscarSoWhite, White Feminism, etc a cover-up like this could be approved with this headline. And did any of these -AList actresses demand that actresses of color and other diverse demos be included? https :// t.co/ kBE0lLXS 3u
— Skylar Ezell (@ Skylar_Writer) December 22, 2017
It was Chastain in particular, though, who took the most heat for appearing on the encompas .
In recent years, Chastain has become a vocal proponent for change in Hollywood, publicly addressing how racism and misogyny affect her industry in consequential routes. Her production company, Freckle Films, is primarily staffed by women, according to The Mary Sue, and focuses on female-driven projects. So her participation in The Envelope cover was especially noteworthy( and frustrating) to many fans, dedicated her commitment to changing the industry from the inside out.
“Honestly,[ Chastain ], as an outspoken voice for equality, how do you pose for a photo like this and not feel utterly mortified by the blatant exclusion? ” asked WNYC editor Rebecca Carroll.
Honestly @jes_chastain as an outspoken voice for equality how do you pose for a photo like this and not feel utterly mortified by the blatant exclusion? How is it possible to not understand the msg this photo sends? pic.twitter.com/ nb8caRfVL6
— Rebecca Carroll (@ rebel1 9) December 22, 2017
To her credit, Chastain responded to the cover, calling it “sad” and demanding better 😛 TAGEND
Its a sad seem that there’s no WOC in this pic of us promoting our female lead cinemas. The industry needs to become more inclusive in its storytelling. What were your favorite WOC lead movies this year? I LOVED @salmahayek in #BeatriceAtDinner https :// t.co/ tzoijwy8 8q
— Jessica Chastain (@ jes_chastain) December 24, 2017
And many fans defended the actress, suggesting that she was being disproportionately criticized.
But Chastain also got some big-name supporting from another famous female in Hollywood: Jada Pinkett Smith .
At the Sundance Film Festival, Pinkett Smith took part in a panel about the importance of diverse storytelling on Jan. 22, 2018. While she didn’t immediately reference the fallout from The Envelope cover, Pinkett Smith made a point to praise Chastain for her work behind the scenes empowering women of all colors.
Pinkett Smith referenced a new movie project starring Chastain and the Oscar-winning Octavia Spencer, who is black, in order to illustrate an important phase .
“Jessica said to Octavia,’ I got you. I’m going to Universal, and we’re going to make a favored nations deal, ’” she began. “Jessica stood up for Octavia, and I want you to know that because they stood together, they got three times what they were asking for as a unit.”
The “favored nations deal” Pinkett Smith referenced is a clause in some amusement contracts that guarantees no other musician sharing the screen with an artist can be working under better words. By helping ensure Spencer got a deal in that vein, Chastain helped level the playing field.
Representation is important, Pinkett Smith explained, but it should be accompanied by real, substantial work toward equality — run that often happens behind the scenes.
And when it comes to doing the work, according to Pinkett Smith, Chastain is a team player. She went on 😛 TAGEND
“It’s nice to go out and march, we can do that. It’s nice to wear black at the Golden Globes. It’s nice to do that. But what are we doing behind closed doors? And I got to give our sister Jessica Chastain her props . Because she stood up for Octavia and set it down. And that’s how we all need to do it for each other.”
Preach, Jada .
Watch Pinkett Smith’s fiery defense of Chastain in the video below:
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