8 Things We Learned From Chelsea Handler, Jane Fonda and More Netflix Stars at the Rebels & Rule Breakers Pane
By Lisa Palmer
Netflix's female-powered lineup was on display at their first annual Rebels + Rulebreakers Luncheon in Los Angeles on Saturday. Fierce feminist Jane Fonda sat alongside the too-truthful Chelsea Handler, trading stories about working with their dogs and hiring acting coaches. Can these sassy tell-it-like-it-is women work together, please?
Meanwhile, Master of None's Lena Waithe, who plays Denise on the popular comedy, admitted to enjoying her hipster fanbase every time she went grocery shopping at Trader Joe's, while Orange is the New Black's Jenji Kohan got real about being a rule breaker and Marta Kauffman, co-creator of Friends and Grace and Frankie shared just how revolutionary it was to be a woman in entertainment back in the '90s.
The event was a celebration of women, forward motion, feminists, and hopefully was the first of many future luncheons to celebrate women’s progress in film and on the silver screen. Each woman offered her own personalized touch of wisdom, wit, and humor and by the end, every single lady in the room left inspired.
Here's eight things we learned from some of the inspiring women in the Netflix lineup:
1. Friends Creator Marta Kauffman is Proud That She Can Talk About "Dry Vaginas" on Grace and Frankie
Finally, a venue that encouraged talk of dry vaginas! Marta Kauffman, well-known for creating Friends, got candid about everything her new show, Grace and Frankie, has done for older women: "I’m proud of so much. Dry vaginas, we can talk about. We can tackle issues about aging and about being a woman and about being a single woman. We can do this because we're on Netflix in deeper ways. Not just the comedy of them, but what’s really going on for women at this age."
Kauffman also shared a juicy tidbit from her time working under an NBC president who wasn’t exactly an advocate for women in charge: "When I was doing Friends, the person who was head of the network at that point was a man and he came from sports which brought a certain machismo and I was interviewed by a woman who was a Philadelphian journalist. She asked how I, as a feminist, could deal with this person and I didn’t want to answer the question. So she said, 'Off the record.' So it was printed. And he was very upset...I think we were in the second season. So as an apology, I sent him a basket of tampons, nail polish, etc. to help him really get into his feminine side."
It never hurts to have a sense of humor in tough conversations about gender equality. Kauffman went on to write eight more seasons worth of the series.
2. Jane Fonda Opened Up About How Becoming a Series Regular Sent Her to Therapy
Jane Fonda, feminist extraordinaire, showed her strength and vulnerability when she shared how difficult it was to transition to the role of series regular on Grace and Frankie. Fonda explained, "I’ve never done episodic television. I’ve been a recurring guest star on Newsroom, but I didn’t realize -- it’s a completely different animal. It was really hard for me in the first season. I kind of fell apart. I went back into therapy and got an acting coach. It’s true and I am proud of that at my age."
3. Chelsea Handler Knows Exactly How to Throw a Tantrum
Chelsea Handler is a woman who knows what she wants and goes after it unapologetically. We should aspire to take on her attitude about fairness: "I just follow my gut and doing what I think I want to do next. As far as breaking rules, if I think something is unfair, I have no problem kicking and screaming about it. As the youngest of six children, I know how to throw a tantrum." If you ever needs motivation to stand up for yourself, look to Handler.
4. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Star Carol Kane Admits to Not Understanding Half of What Her Character Says
UKS writers and creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock move at such a breakneck speed with pop culture references, it’s no wonder Kane, who plays Lillian on the series, can hardly keep up. Hopefully, she knew to steer clear of the real Robert Durst: "This show is so up to the minute, and the references are so immediately cultural so half the time, I have no idea what I’m saying. So I frequently take a stab at what I think I mean. I go up to Tina and ask what that was actually about and I am usually completely off. They are so patient with me, I must say."
5. Master of None’s Lena Waithe Described Her Hilarious First Meeting With Aziz Ansari
Waithe, who plays Dev’s deadpan lesbian friend Denise on the series, was just as funny in real life as she is on the cult comedy hit. As a former writer on Bones, Waithe wasn’t expecting to get a role on Ansari’s show, but as is show business, her name was passed along and Ansari wanted a meeting.
"So I went to Aziz’s house. I didn’t have a script -- didn’t know there was a show happening. I rolled up past Aziz’s Tesla, parked my 'car situation' behind it, walked inside, sat down with Aziz," she recounted. "I’m a writer first, so I was chatting and talking about my girlfriend who was once a heterosexual woman who was no longer heterosexual and I was very excited about that… I got a call and they asked me to read for Aziz and I was like cool. And she was definitely written like a white straight woman, and then I was just playing around with Aziz and we just felt it immediately. I auditioned a couple more times, then I took a break from my writing and moved to New York for a few months and got the chance to play it."
6. Jessica Jones Star Krysten Ritter Was in Awe of Survivors
Ritter plays Jessica Jones in the Marvel series, a tough-as-nails private investigator who is also a rape survivor. Ritter discusses the power of playing that role and how the women she’s recently met inspire her: "I’ve had amazing interactions with women who are survivors and have connected to the show in such a huge way and love that Jessica isn’t defined by her trauma or by what happened to her. She finds her potential and keeps going. Finding that personal connection with women has been so exciting and humbling. Just being a part of something that has that impact on people, and luckily we’re on Netflix so we have this giant platform. It’s changed my life and I’m so stoked about it."
We’re stoked about it, too and we’re ready for season two, please!
7. Orange is the New Black Creator Jenji Kohan Draws the Line at Killing Children
Jenji Kohan certainly doesn’t censor herself and this panel was no exception. It was easy to see how well Kohan and Laura Prepon, who plays Alex on the series, worked together, as they both have similar sentiments about being a woman in the entertainment industry. Kohan bluntly explains, "I’ve never met a rule that I haven’t wanted to break. I mean basic things like don’t f*** the dog or kill the children, but beyond that everything is open to being broken."
Prepon shared some motherly advice that helps her get into character. "I never try and fit into any mold. Growing up, my mother was a very eccentric artist and one thing she always said was never to try and fit into any mold. She was such a free spirit and that kind of mentality of never trying to fit into someone else’s idea of who you should be puts an expectation on you." Prepon’s OITNB character, Alex, certainly doesn’t fit into any mold.
Season four of Orange is the New Black premieres June 17th on Netflix, where you can stream and binge even more female rule breakers and rebels anytime you want.