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  1. Respect For Helen Mirren by Rhonda Hansome

    Thursday, August 18, 2016

    On a lunch break his week. doing stand-in* work on the TV show Madam Secretary, I had a provocative exchange with a background** co-worker we'll call Patricia Patrician.
    She was a petite mature white woman more attractive in person than the selfies she shared*** conveyed.

    I envied the flattering cut of Patricia's thick head of gray hair. Yes, I envy women (of a certain age) who confidently sport thick heads of white, platinum, or graying hair with aplomb. I also envy women who use words like aplomb with aplomb, but I digress.

                This Photo Is Not Patricia

                               The Only Photo After I Searched For Images Of Black Women With Gray Hair

    Patricia was researching roles for a screen scene study class (say that 3 times fast!) and was disappointed those she'd read included semi-nudity, which she felt was demeaning to women.

    We got on the topic of standing-in, which I've done many times including for Whoopi Goldberg on an episode of Absolutely Fabulous shot in NY. I mentioned Patricia could easily stand in for an actress I've admired for decades...

    Helen Mirren

    I not only envy this hair-do I need this photo filter for my life!

    We bonded over our affection for Helen Mirren until I mentioned how frequently she appeared semi- nude in many of her (critically acclaimed!) films. Patricia's face paled as she sighed.

    PP: Now, I've loss all respect for her.
    Me: Why have you lost respect for Helen Mirren?
    PP: I don't think a woman should demean herself by doing that on film.
    Me: Doing what?
    PP: Taking her clothes off on-camera.
    Me: Do you have less respect for Jane Fonda, Sophia Loren, and Susan Sarandon?
    PP: I don't respect any woman who would take her clothes off on-camera. What do you think?
    Me: I think you have every right to your opinion.

    And in my head I continued... "If I were offered the quantity and quality of diverse and challenging roles offered to Helen Mirren, I'd drop clothes in a NY minute. And I'm not going to mention my youthful lead in an indie feature in which I played a stripper!

    That being said, I recently turned down the opportunity to audition for a nude part just because I considered my naked body of the moment not "camera ready". Now THAT is demeaning! I may have just lost all respect for myself.

    *Stand-in is a (2nd team) actor who stands in position for the principal or featured actor while the director sets blocking and technicians arrange lighting and assorted equipment needed for a particular scene; after which the (1st team) star, feature or day player actor steps into place.

    **Background artists or ambiance is the name I prefer to what some disparagingly call "extras". These are the (non-speaking) actors who walk around or sit near 1st team actors to support the look or ambiance of a scene.

    ***Sharing pictures of our different "looks" is a traditional pastime on set. We compare the "characters" we offer casting directors who hold our incomes in their decisions. For example ...

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  2. 12 comments:

    1. I'll leave a comment. By saying you weren't going to mention the indie film you made, you did anyhow. I guess what we mean when we say that, as I do often, is we aren't going to give any details beyond what I just stated. Good post.

    2. lou said...

      You played a stripper?.... Where you take off your clothes?... Really?... What's the name of the movie?!.... Can I get it at the Wal-mart?... On my food stamp card?!.... But I only got four dollars and fifty-five cents left on it... Cool, then I'm buyin' two!

    3. RHC said...

      Yes Michael, that's all I'll say when I've revealed too much already!

    4. RHC said...

      Thanks Lou for leaving a comment. Yes you can buy 2 copies AND keep the change.

    5. RHC said...

      Yes Michael, that's all I'll say when I've revealed too much already!

    6. retromeister said...

      I enjoyed reading this article by Rhonda Hansome, for several reasons. Firstly it is an interesting topic-woman baring skin for the screen. Should it be considered an artistic part of the industry?. It is in Europe, but what about here. Rhonda wrote about speaking to an attractive actress she met in the set of a job. Inspired by the work of Helen Mirren, Rhonda saw something similar in this lady and they talked. Read about what was said. Rhonda spiced it with her wonder comedic flare and it is very interesting to hear the opinion of the actress.

    7. Mark said...

      Well written and thoughtful. Nudity in film is sometimes just work and a part of life. But as Jackie Mason says, so is soup. And why, he asks, are there so few soup scenes in film?

    8. RHC said...

      Thank you for your thoughtful response

    9. RHC said...

      Thank you Mark. We are on for duck soup!

    10. RHC said...

      Thank you Mark. We are on for duck soup!

    11. Unknown said...

      I am all on top of (pun intended) respect and admiration for Helen Mirren. And her in that red two-piece is NOT an old photo, DAMN! Perspective is EVERYTHING!!!
      I enjoyed the post!

    12. RHC said...

      Thank you for your vote of appreciation

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