If orange is the new black, then Netflix is the new platform for women to rule — or that’d be your take after hearing the digital giants who recently appeared at “Women Ruling TV” panel at the TV Academy. Oscar winner Jodie Foster, Oscar-nominated documentarian Jehane Noujaim, Golden Globe winner Robin Wright, and Globe nominees Taylor Schilling and Kate Mulgrew all gathered to discuss their parts in making Netflix a go-to place for women-driven content.
“Every kind of female is represented in this,” Mulgrew told Gold Derby on the red carpet. (Watch video below.) “And we are crossing each other at every intersection. So it can’t be anything less at any moment than absolutely mind-blowingly exciting.”
Her show, “Orange is the New Black,” centers around a female prison inmate (Taylor Schilling) with a large supporting cast of mostly women: “I think the chemistry on the ‘Orange’ set is extraordinary and I’m going to risk and say this. I think by virtue of the fact that there are not so many men, we are free to be absolutely authentic. There is a lot of freedom and trust.”
Jodie Foster, who has directed episodes of both of Netflix’s most popular original series, “Orange” and “House of Cards,” explained her new TV watching habits as being solely with Netflix: “I don’t want to watch it any other way, to tell you the truth. I’m irritated when watching anything else.” She tells Gold Derby that what actually brought her on board was not her love of Netflix, but an email signature: “A friend of mine sent me an email and at the bottom of her email it said “Producer of ‘Orange it the New Black’ and I said: “Are you on that show?’ and she said ‘Yes’ and I said: ‘Figure out a way to get me on!’ and that’s kind of how it worked.”
Robin Wright said she signed on to “House of Cards” for two reasons: “You don’t come across female roles like this. When (David) Fincher called and said, ‘Hey, do you want to do this? Kevin (Spacey) actually suggested you to play his lady Macbeth.’ To play with him (Spacey), he’s a master; he sings with surprise. There is always a melody, and while you’re following it like you would a beautiful classic tune. You are always surprised.”
Wright also took her stab at directing in “Cards” second season and admitted she was scared, but has now found a comfort in it thanks to her co-stars: “It’s family. It’s like I’m going back to school to see my pals. I’m going to direct another episode.”
Noujaim spent three years on her Oscar-nominated documentary “The Square,” which focuses on six protesters involved with the Egyptian Revolution. She explains the dangers she and her crew faced in the middle of Egypt’s uprising: “Everyone on the film crew got tear gassed, shot at, and arrested. I was arrested three times.” Making sure the world saw this, she tells Gold Derby, is the reason she went with Netflix over her normal theatrical run: “We did a lot of research in terms of looking at Netflix as the home for the film. We asked everybody — taxi drivers, people who were putting luggage on the conveyer belt — everybody had Netflix.”
That power to be seen by so many with just a click was certainly felt by lead “Orange” star Taylor Schilling. She told the TV Academy audience that her shoot to stardom was unlike anything maybe any network TV star has ever had: “Almost 72 hours after the series was released; my experience walking down my street was completely different. It was really amazing because people had just spent 13 hours with us.” And Schilling made sure to point out that those 13 hours were very intimate with the audience, on a show that allows her to wear no make-up: “If you come in with anything, it gets taken off. Michael, the makeup guy, has a way of saying: ‘That blemish looks so beautiful. I really think we should leave it in!’ And I think, ‘Oh, my God. There’s going to be no concealer on my freaking zit today!”