Sienna Miller says sexist tabloids “overshadowed” her acting career

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Kayleigh Dray
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Over the past few years, it has become painfully apparent that it is far harder for a woman to make a name for herself in Hollywood than it is a man.

From Olivia Wilde to Susan Sarandon, countless actors have spoken up about their experiences of ageism in the film industry, while others, such as Natalie Portman, have shone a spotlight on the gender pay gap. Meanwhile Billie Piper, Emily Blunt, Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Lawrence and Thandie Newton have openly deplored the lack of strong female film roles available, and Jennifer Aniston has penned more than one blistering op-ed about the sexist glare of the tabloid lens.

Now, in a new interview with Yahoo Movies, Sienna Miller has opened up about her own experiences of misogyny in the industry, saying her acting talent was “overshadowed” by media coverage of her personal life.

It’s no secret that Miller has, over the past few years, undergone something of a career transformation. The 35-year-old has moved on from bit parts in lesser-known films such as GI Joe, instead taking on bigger roles in critically-acclaimed films Foxcatcher and American Sniper.

However, for a very long time, Miller found herself unable to get work in ‘serious’ movies – and she has now said that she blames tabloid journalists.

Miller first shot to fame in the early noughties with a series of performances in films like Layer Cake and Factory Girl.

However, her name was constantly in the headlines for her personal life, including speculation about her high-profile relationships with Jude Law and Balthazar Getty.

 “I think during those years, I was really very public in the tabloid media and I think that perception [of me] overshadowed my ability,” she explained.

“Since that’s slowed down it’s opened up a world of filmmakers. People see me as an actor now, and not necessarily the other side of things.”

Miller added: “I’ve always been a hard worker, I just think that I was seen more as ‘someone’s girlfriend’ or someone who was trendy.”

It wasn’t until the actor – who is currently starring in Live By Night (directed by co-star Ben Affleck) – was awarded £100,000 in damages during the News International phone hacking scandal that she has been offered more complex film roles.

“Having been as litigious as I have been,” said Miller, “fighting against bad media and paparazzi, it just means that’s died down and I can be what I’ve always wanted to be, which is a serious actor.”

Perhaps it’s time for Miller to team forces with Jessica Chastain, Juliette Binoche, Queen Latifah, Freida Pinto, Zhang Ziyi and Catherine Hardwicke, who, in 2016, joined the advisory board of a newly launched non-profit production company We Do It Together, which aims to close the gender gap by focusing on film and television projects that empower women.

“We hope in the future we won’t have a need for dedicated niche financing for films by and about women,” founder and board member of We Do It Together, Chiara Tilesi, told The Hollywood Reporter.

“All of us involved in We Do It Together recognise the vital role of the media and entertainment in both shaping and challenging societal norms. Film has always possessed the power to defy convention and change hearts and minds, and this power and potential must be harnessed to challenge the current archaic norms related to women within the entertainment industry.

“We feel that the way to make this a reality is to give women from around the world a concrete way to express themselves and an ongoing structure that will ensure that these stories will be financed and distributed.”

Or, more succinctly: I am woman, hear me roar.

All hail the badass women striving to give Hollywood a #girlpower makeover.


Image credits: Rex pictures


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.