I've always thought that being a girl is hard work. From the temper tantrums I would throw about my somewhere-between-straight-and-curly hair when I was little to that nagging time of the month where some of us seem to unleash the Hulk inside. The list goes on and on. But, and this is a big but, being a girl is amazing. For God's sake, we give life to other beings -- how crazy is that? With that bountiful responsibility come emotions. Now, I'm an expert on emotions. I've felt them all to the extreme. And I'm okay with that. I used to be ashamed that streams of tears would pour out of my eyes as easily as snapping my fingers (I'm a very good snapper), but now I can proudly say that's just who I am -- I cry, I laugh, I yell -- a ball of feminine emotion. And it's totally cool.
So when I heard that a friend of mine was making a movie about female friendships I thought, I cannot wait to see all these things that I think, hear, and feel -- that we all think, hear, and feel -- come to life. I met Grey Cusack at orientation for graduate school at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. I'm 5'10 and let's just say that Grey is somewhere far beneath that -- a creative friendship was born. Grey has reached the end of her three years at USC and is embarking on creating her thesis film. This film -- Kate & Lily -- is about two friends, Kate and Lily. It's about how women perceive one another and how we can be simultaneously so evil and so sweet. Grey notes how complicated female friendships are because they're like love affairs. We go on a rollercoaster of emotions about our friends just like we do about our significant others. We judge and we compare, always hoping to come out on top. In her film, Grey hopes to tackle these battles we have with ourselves and other woman around us.
A couple of weeks ago I got in a fight with a friend. This happens right? If you have any sort of backbone it's bound to -- you have an opinion, they have an opinion, heads butt. I'd never had a fight with this particular friend and we've known each other long enough to have plenty of embarrassing blackmail dirt if things went down the drain. Don't worry, they didn't. There were a couple days of tension but then we sat down like the civilized human beings we are and chalked it up to a passing moment -- a moment where we both let our flaws take over. Coming out of that little disagreement I suddenly felt like our friendship had been revived. In recognizing that we are not perfect, that we will have lapses in judgement, and that once and a while everyone needs a helping hand, we came out stronger than before. After this incident, Kate & Lily became a particularly inspiring project to me. I had just gone through it! Kate, the protagonist, is inspired by Grey herself and Lily is modeled loosely after a friend of hers from college who, "everytime I run into her, I seem to be at my worst. I'm fairly sure I'm cursed in this way and hence, so is Kate."
When I fought with my friend, I was at my worst. I was fumbling, I was judgemental, and at moments I was definitely mean. We all carry that curse of being at our worst at inopportune moments. It's how we come out of them that makes us who we truly are -- the good parts. In the film, Kate begins to understand that there's more going on with Lily than she had presumed. It is this moment that the film is hinged on. The movie is about taking a step back and allowing yourself to be a little more observant, perhaps a little more sympathetic, to those around you. Girls have emotions and sometimes we forget that ours aren't the only ones that matter. I think the most that we can hope for is the self-awareness that even when we find ourselves in moments of conflict with our friends we are able to put ourselves in that persons shoes for a moment. Grey's movie gives a funny, entertaining tool through which to understand that.
As women we belong to a very important, very influential, and very complicated part of the population. We must embrace that. Grey and I talked about women in entertainment--how they are portrayed, the roles behind the scenes that they hold -- as we ourselves are these women. The changing roles of women on TV and in movies is happening, but according to a study at San Diego State University, female characters held only 12 percent of protagonist roles in the top domestic-grossing films in 2014. We can take that statistic in, then let it go. Because there's hope and opportunity for us. I don't feel slighted or bitter -- I feel empowered and responsible for the future of women in our industry. With films like Kate & Lily we make these little baby steps. It's a chance to continue a dialogue about how simultaneously difficult and miraculous being a woman can be. Because as Grey says herself, "Not everything is about me or you, it's about all of us."
To learn more about Kate & Lily, please visit their page at here.
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