Driven, passionate and whip-smart, actress Jessica Mcnamee is fast proving she can hold her own both onand off-screen
Aussie actress Jessica Mcnamee takes on a challenging – and controversial – new role.
First appearing on our screens in beloved Aussie dramas Home And Away and Packed To The
Rafters, Jessica Mcnamee made the move to Los Angeles six years ago to put herself through the Hollywood paces. This month, she hits her stride alongside Emma Stone and Steve Carell in Battle
Of The Sexes – centred around Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs’ iconic 1973 tennis match and King’s fight for gender pay equality in the sport. Mcnamee plays Margaret Court, the Australian tennis legend who’s stirred controversy of late with her views on same-sex marriage. It put Mcnamee in a unique position to make her own voice heard, using Instagram to declare that, “This ‘Margaret Court’ believes in marriage equality and supports any corporation that does the same.” We soon discovered that’s not all she feels passionate about.
THIS ROLE WAS A REAL DEPARTURE IN TERMS OF MY IDEOLOGIES.
Margaret Court’s beliefs are so far from mine in terms of marriage equality. She has a strong standpoint against the gay community in the film, and I was worried about playing her in that light and really hoped it wasn’t going to offend people.
LOVE IS LOVE.
So many of my friends are gay. I don’t understand why they shouldn’t have the same opportunities as everyone else, or why they should be discriminated against just because of the way they were born. The world is such a volatile place right now. Why add to that?
I’M KIND OF THE VILLAIN IN THE FILM.
I’m the rival of Billie Jean King [played by Emma Stone], which was fun in itself. But everyone was really lovely. Emma is exactly as you’d imagine her – she’s just delightful. I learned so much about that period in time, and the history of why we’ve come so far in female tennis. I knew that the pay for women is more equal than it is in any other sport, but I didn’t really know how that came about. It was a real turning point for women in tennis – it changed the whole game.
FILM IS STILL ONE OF THE MOST BACKWARD INDUSTRIES IN TERMS OF REPRESENTATION OF FEMALES. Both on-screen – in the portrayal and sexualisation of women – and behind the scenes. Because of that, not much female content has been made. There aren’t women at the helm to represent women, so you get this trickledown effect where women are often servicing the male character, as “the girlfriend of” or “the love interest of”. It’s rare to pick up a script where the woman is the lead.
I WANT TO WORK WITH AMAZING FEMALE ACTORS
and do more female-driven ensemble films. It’s fun getting on set with a bunch of girls and just kicking ass. It’s rare that you’re in a scenario like that. There’s this stigma that films with female leads don’t make money, and it’s come from nowhere. Now films like Wonder
Woman and Hidden Figures are starting to be made – and they’re killing it. Hopefully it’s momentum for change.
I’VE BEEN TRYING TO COME HOME A LOT MORE.
I’d been on the road for 18 months shooting three films back-to-back, and before that I was based in LA but shooting a show in Chicago, and I was missing weddings, babies... all these big life moments. I haven’t been taking time off per se, I’ve just been a lot choosier about the stuff I’m doing and not jumping the gun with any jobs. I’ve also been writing. I’m doing a bachelor’s degree, majoring in professional writing – it keeps my brain active! Battle Of The Sexes is in cinemas September 28
“Margaret Court’s beliefs are so far from mine in terms of marriage equality... I don’t understand why gay people shouldn’t have the same opportunities as everyone else”
SERVING IT UP Emma Stone, Steve Carell and (bottom) Jessica Mcnamee get into character