Actress Juno Temple visited Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles to meet with La Femme, the female empowerment club, and speak about her experiences as an actress in the media industry. Members of the group were especially interested in Temple’s speech because she consistently plays complex female characters on the big screen. To name a few, Temple has played a protective fairy (Maleficent), a manipulative exotic dancer (Afternoon Delight), a quick-thinking pickpocket (The Dark Knight Rises), and a young girl whose family offers her virginity to a hitman as collateral (Killer Joe). Back in 2013, Temple told Independent, “Last year was crazy; I played a schizophrenic, a prostitute, a fairy and a dead girl whose story was told in flashbacks. The amount of different, strong women I got to play last year was fantastic.”
In her talk with La Femme, Temple mentioned the importance of finding qualities within her character with which she can identify, and emphasized how important it is that members of the audience find ways to relate to the characters as well. Temple said, “I think it’s so important to play characters that are going through things that you’ve been through [or] your friends have told you about those experiences. Maybe someone somewhere will see that and be like ‘Wow, I’m going through that too.’”
The relatable features of Temple’s roles can evoke positive emotions or painful memories. After shooting Horns, a film in which her character is brutally and fatally assaulted, Temple stated that she believed there should be a more open discussion about violence against women, and that she hoped that the film would aid that conversation.
“The thing that’s important to understand with violence towards women and rape is how many women it’s happened to and how many women haven’t spoken out about it because of many different reasons,” Temple said. “As a country, as a world, as a universe, we need to encourage women to talk about that, because women feel guilty and all these other different emotions about it. And that’s just horrible because the only way you can start healing something like that is if you get to talk about it.”
While talking to the students, Temple explored the criticism of women in the media and in the acting industry, attributing the comfort she feels as an actress to the powerful actresses and female directors with whom she’s collaborated.
“As a woman, you do get told you’re not this enough, you’re not that enough, you’re too short, you’re too blonde,” Temple told the students. “It can be incredibly unimaginative, but then there are also amazing women in this industry that so believe in female power and so encourage you to be honest as a woman.”
Striking a similar note, Temple encouraged the students to practice self-love and self-acceptance. She admitted to her own personal struggles with poor body image, before telling the students to avoid obsessing over society’s conception of beauty.
“You can have the most perfect body in the world but still really hate being in your own skin,” Temple said. As an alternative, she suggested that people spend their time doing the things that bring them joy, saying, “I’m a strong believer that you should do one thing every day that makes you happy.”
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