*For the magazine’s June 5 issue, The Hollywood Reporter sat down with Tracee Ellis Ross (“black•ish”), comedian Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham (“Girls”), Ellie Kemper (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”), and “Saturday Night Live’s” Kate McKinnon to discuss the struggles of being a woman in entertainment and the sexism they’ve encountered throughout their careers.
Tracee was candid during an uncensored discussion at the Comedy Actress Roundtable for THR’s gathering of the six provocative, comedy actresses. She spoke about the calculating method of filming sex scenes for network television, racism in Hollywood and the lack of substantial roles for women of color.
“I think racism trumps everything,” Ross said. “[It all] happens behind the scenes.”
When asked about Chris Rock’s essay in THR, in which he talks about how there are so few substantial roles for women of color, Tracee replied:
“There aren’t many [roles in film]. That’s why I say no to all the offers! (Laughs.) Working on a film is one job where you look at a casting breakdown and I’ll think, “That’s me!” But she’s not supposed to be black.” Dunham added, “There was a lot of dialogue about race when “Girls” started. I’d been thinking so much about representing weirdo, chubby girls and strange half-Jews that I had forgotten that there was an entire world of women being underserved.”
On filming sex scenes for network shows, Ross said:
“There are a lot of instructions: Close the mouth. You can move, make the sounds, but no tongue. I had some incidences on “Girlfriends.” This guy’s tongue jammed in like a lizard out of nowhere.”
Tracee also reflected on the current reality that women who dare to speak up for themselves are often seen as bossy rather than ambitious.
“I was raised by a woman who has high standards for what she’s worth, which has been called ‘diva behavior,’ ” Ross says of her mother, singer Diana Ross. “I have witnessed flagrant, disgusting behavior, and that is not my mother. There is a way to be a woman, ask for what we deserve and be able to negotiate.”
Peep the clip below from their discussion where Tracee recalls her humiliating Harvard lawyer audition.
“I tested once for a network show to play a lawyer. A Harvard-educated motherf—in’ lawyer, OK? I wore a skirt suit and heels. Seemed appropriate. Then there were many discussions about my hair. They’d printed up all these pictures of me from 15 f—in’ years ago and had me in and out of the bathroom trying on clothes. They finally pick a skirt — the shortest I brought. Then got a T-shirt from one of the people in the office. The woman says, “Hmmm, your boobs.” I was like, “I didn’t bring a bra for this T-shirt.” She screams down the hall, “Who wears a 34B?” I put on someone else’s bra, a size too small, and somehow auditioned. I remember wondering, “What did I just allow myself to do?” The other actress [who auditioned] was dressed like she was going to a club and got the role. It was one of those moments where you’re so confused and humiliated. But that’s part of the biz.”