hold­ing court

Driven, pas­sion­ate and whip-smart, ac­tress Jes­sica Mcnamee is fast prov­ing she can hold her own both onand off-screen

ELLE (Australia) - - Contents -

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

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