NASTY WOMEN Girl­boss

A visit to the set of Net­flix’s in four scenes.

ELLE (Canada) - - Exclusive -

SCENE 1 Perched on a black can­vas di­rec­tor’s chair, you’re squeezed in be­hind a gi­ant ply­wood wall, a pre­pos­ter­ous tan­gle of ca­bles and wires at your feet. On the other side of the bar­rier, there are real-life peo­ple act­ing out a scene on a set de­signed to look like a dis­used boathouse in San Fran­cisco. Wear­ing head­phones, you focus in­tently on a desk­top-mon­i­tor-size screen and lis­ten as, Ground­hog Day- like, the same 30 sec­onds of con­ver­sa­tion is re­peated over and over. In this par­tic­u­lar scene in Net­flix’s new se­ries Girl­boss, real-life In­ter­net business­woman Sophia Amoruso, played by Britt Robert­son, is ne­go­ti­at­ing with some­one about leas­ing her first of­fice space. Ac­com­pa­nied by her best friend, played by new­comer El­lie Reed, Robert­son’s Amoruso is ballsy, pushy and full of swag­ger and wear­ing bell-bot­tomed jeans and plat­forms. The spiel she de­liv­ers to her po­ten­tial land­lord runs some­thing along the lines of “It’s be­cause of, not in spite of, me be­ing a fe­male en­tre­pre­neur that I’ll never be late on rent.” It’s a bit stir­ring, even on the sev­enth or eighth take. SCENE 2 Kay Can­non, Girl­boss’ cre­ator, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer and writer, walks a group of in­ter­na­tional jour­nal­ists through the set of Amoruso’s apart­ment. The eclec­ti­cally dec­o­rated, slightly seedy apart­ment is a nice metaphor for this 13-part se­ries: It’s loosely based on the San Fran digs that Amoruso lived in when she first launched her on­line vin­tage-cloth­ing business, Nasty Gal, in 2006, but it has been adapted for the small screen (no ceil­ings!). Can­non, whom you might know as the mind be­hind the Pitch Per­fect films, makes it clear that the se­ries is also “loosely based” on Amoruso’s life story: “It’s a straight-up com­edy,” says Can­non, stand­ing near a de­cid­edly sec­ond-hand-look­ing sofa. “I was so drawn to her story, and I was like, ‘That’s one I want to

tell.’” Amoruso’s story—she started out at 22 sell­ing vin­tage cloth­ing on eBay and be­came a mil­lion­aire by 27— had al­ready been told once by the fash­ion mogul her­self, in a best­sell­ing mo­ti­va­tional mem­oir called #Girl­boss. Can­non ap­proached the se­ries from her own par­tic­u­lar viewpoint. “I can’t write drama,” she says. “I see ev­ery­thing through a comedic lens, and it wasn’t a stretch for me to see the com­edy in this.” Not so funny? All the net­works who re­jected her pitch for a fe­male-cen­tric com­edy, de­spite the fact that Charlize Theron had signed on to ex­ec­u­tive-pro­duce. “But in my first call with Net­flix, they said they were hun­gry for some­thing that would ap­peal to young women,” says Can­non. “Per­son­ally, I think this is a show for any­one who has ever been lost and needed to find them­selves, but I was happy be­cause I feel that some­times young fe­male au­di­ences get ig­nored.” SCENE 3 Sur­rounded by rack upon rack of brightly coloured cloth­ing, cos­tume de­signer Au­drey Fisher is stand­ing in front of a group of rapt jour­nal­ists. She has a hand on the right sleeve of a very Bowie-esque leather jacket that’s hang­ing at the front of one of the racks, clearly in pride of place. “This is a real hero piece,” the red­head com­ments, stroking the mul­ti­coloured jacket af­fec­tion­ately. “It is true vin­tage, so it was ex­pen­sive. We only have one,” she con­tin­ues, re­fer­ring to the prac­tice of mak­ing mul­ti­ples of a cos­tume. The walls of this tiny room—more of a land­ing, re­ally, in be­tween pro­duc­tion-staff of­fices—are cov­ered with images: fash­ion il­lus­tra­tions of orig­i­nal cos­tumes that Fisher dreamed up, gi­ant poster boards filled with pic­tures of the real Amoruso and her crew back in the mid’00s and mood boards plas­tered thick with images meant to evoke the ’70s-cool-girl vibe that both Amoru­sos (real and im­agined for TV) ex­ploit to build a fash­ion em­pire. SCENE 4 Can­non and Robert­son, still in cos­tume, sit in a win­dow­less room as they walk us through the show’s mes­sage. The abun­dance of snacks and the room’s lack of nat­u­ral light are a tipoff that this is the writ­ers’ room. “It’s about be­ing the boss of your own life,” says Can­non, adding that the char­ac­ter of Amoruso is sort of a uni­ver­sal ci­pher for not know­ing what to do with your life. “We’ve all felt anger and sad­ness and had these grow­ing pains, but when you find what you love, that anger goes away.” Robert­son takes up the thought. “You don’t have to con­form or be some­body for any­one other than your­self,” she says. “Make your­self feel good first.” While the show def­i­nitely has a fem­i­nist bent, Can­non goes on to say that she doesn’t want it to be all about be­ing a “girl.” “It’s in­ter­est­ing that you watched that scene to­day,” she says, re­fer­ring back to the of­fice-rent­ing episode filmed ear­lier. “That’s the only episode where we talk about gender. The other episodes are just, like, an in­di­vid­ual’s strug­gles to get through life. I’ve cer­tainly had that ex­pe­ri­ence, where a land­lord looks at me like I’m a child, so that’s what that episode is about. But it’s not ac­tu­ally our main thing.” Robert­son nods in agree­ment. “One of my take­aways from the show is that I need to stop apol­o­giz­ing for my­self,” she says. “I feel like I’m con­stantly mak­ing ex­cuses, soft­en­ing things. It’s so in­grained in me, but I’ll break out of it even­tu­ally.” n

PER­SON­ALLY, I THINK THIS IS A SHOW FOR ANY­ONE WHO HAS EVER BEEN LOST AND NEEDED TO FIND THEM­SELVES.

SET­TING A SOUND STAGE IN LOS AN­GE­LES

The se­ries is “loosely based” on Sophia Amoruso’s best­selling mem­oir, #Girl­boss.

All 13 half-hour episodes of Girl­boss are avail­able on Net­flix Canada now.

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