Residents made repeated warnings about fire safety prior to the incident, and the government has since launched an official inquiry. Scotland Yard said yesterday that it will consider manslaughter charges, as police continue to look at the involvement of various companies who played a role in the recent refurbishment of the building.
In less than a month, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins has gone from the first female director of a superhero movie, to the female director with the highest domestic opening weekend ever ($103.3 million), to, as of Friday, the female director with the highest-grossing movie ever worldwide ($621.3 million). The film is not just a commercial smash, either — it’s become a cultural sensation, capturing the public’s imagination in a way summer blockbusters rarely do anymore.
A female filmmaker has rarely — if ever — found herself in this particular kind of moment before, which is as much a commentary on the perpetual disadvantages of women in Hollywood as it is on Jenkins’ singular achievement.
It’s a point Jenkins herself was quick to make in a phone interview with BuzzFeed News on Friday. “It’s surreal,” she said of reaching this box office milestone. “On the one hand, I’m trying to just enjoy it as a great honor. And on the other hand, it’s sad when it makes you realize that there hasn’t been as many films [directed by women] as there should be, of course. … This is making a lot of money. It’s a huge deal for me and a huge honor. But it is interesting in the attention that it brings to the issue.”
Jenkins’ career in Hollywood really began with her debut feature, 2004’s Monster. The film earned Charlize Theron a Best Actress Oscar for her harrowing and humane portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, but Jenkins’ career largely stalled after its release — but only because no one wanted to make the movies she wanted to make, not because she wasn’t getting offers at all. “The industry was also embracing me then,” she said. “It was difficult to get a movie that I was writing and directing made. But they were offering me studio movies that I didn’t want to do. … It was harder, I think, to get attention for the films that I wanted to do than I expected it to be.”
Wonder Woman, by contrast, was the perfect combination — a big studio movie Jenkins was enthusiastic about making — and now she is more in demand than ever.
During a break from developing the sequel — “We’re working on making the contract official,” Jenkins said of her current status on Wonder Woman 2 — she spoke openly about what Wonder Woman’s massive success means for her career and the careers of other female directors, that alleged Joss Whedon script leak, and how Twitter has brought her closer to the film’s rabid fanbase than she ever expected.
Here are Jenkins’ biggest takeaways since making Hollywood history — and, she hopes, helping to shape its future.
1. Her conviction about Wonder Woman’s massive success was absolutely right.
Wonder Woman (in)famously took decades to get her first feature film, encountering entrenched industry skepticism about whether or not audiences would buy tickets to see a female superhero — skepticism Jenkins never understood. “I kept feeling like Wonder Woman has this huge following — 75 years [after it was created], every Halloween, there’s people dressed up as Wonder Woman,” she said. “I was like, Of course you should make Wonder Woman. That’s, like, a bag of money sitting in the closet. Do you want the bag of money? It could have been done badly, or something could have gone wrong with it, but I always had thought that it was going to be far more successful than other people might have. The audience is there.”
2. Her career ambitions will never be totally fulfilled — and that’s as she wants it to be.
“I don’t think I focused on the financial part of it,” Jenkins said of her career goals. “But definitely my ambition is to be great, and that always meant that the sky was the limit for what I was hoping to do. I was thinking I would love to make something that is a successful film that everybody sees, but I wasn’t thinking about the actual dollar amount. I just wanted to make a great film that people responded to. That’s always a good ambition, because you’ll never totally hit it. Like, I’m so happy with this film, but of course it doesn’t feel like the perfect film in my dreams to me. Nothing ever will. It’s about always aiming higher.”
3. She doesn’t think it’s worth dwelling on any criticism of Wonder Woman, either.
“Listen, I am incredibly hard on myself, and I’m very open to being relentlessly hard on the movie, as long as we need to be. But once the movie is done, there is no point,” Jenkins said with a laugh. “There’s nothing I can do! That chapter has passed for me, and that chapter was only really important and applicable when I could make a difference. … Even the conversations now about what Wonder Woman 2 should be — it’s important to know what the fanbase is, and it’s important to hear [from them], but it’s also important to be the storyteller and tell a story you feel confident in, and then make sure it’s the best it can be.”
4. Or dwelling on earlier attempts at making a Wonder Woman movie.
Earlier this month, an alleged copy of a 2006 Wonder Woman script written by Joss Whedon — who is currently directing reshoots of Warner Bros.’ Justice League, and is working on a Batgirl film for the studio — leaked online, leading to some pointed criticism. Jenkins, however, didn’t read it, and wouldn’t comment on the criticism of it. “He’s in the DC universe now, and I don’t think there’s any reason to go there,” she said. “It was what it was. I’m lucky that I’m the person who got to do it. But I don’t see what would be beneficial about comparing what he would’ve done versus what I would have done.” (A spokesperson for Whedon declined to comment on the script leak.)
5. She has learned the power of engaging with fans directly on Twitter.
Jenkins has been omnipresent on Twitter since Wonder Woman’s release — the account is “100%” run by her, and she doesn’t expect to ever hand it over to a social media manager either. It’s just too much fun. “What an incredible way to have a direct interface with the public!” she said. “I mean, definitely abused by some people in this world, but I think it’s a very cool way to see what the fanbase and the public thinks, to hear from them, and then speak back to them directly. I think it’s pretty amazing in that way.”
She particularly loves hearing from Wonder Woman‘s youngest fans. “The little kids’ responses!” she exclaimed. “To see that kid at the theater right after they saw the movie, posing with the poster — that’s incredible. I don’t know where else I would get a daily flash of, like, Wow, thank you for sharing your reaction to the movie. That’s so unique and wonderful.”
Jenkins was also touched that the themes of love, heroism, and making a difference in the world that she hoped to only slip in as “subtext” ended up being the same things fans also wanted to talk about. “I thought people would want to talk about, like, Issue 45 of Wonder Woman,” she said with a laugh.
6. She is already noticing the positive effect Wonder Woman is having on her career.
“Oh yeah, definitely, definitely, definitely there’s attention and opportunity,” Jenkins said of industry interest in hiring her to direct more films. Her work on Wonder Woman 2 has made her ability to fully capitalize on that enthusiasm “slightly more complicated,” she said, but she’s actually been fielding offers for a while now. “I mean, they were trying to hire me for the last six months as I was finishing the movie.”
7. But she’s been surprised by just how fully the industry has embraced her.
“That part’s been really stunning,” she said when asked about the standing ovation she got at Diane Keaton’s AFI Life Achievement tribute earlier this month. “It’s funny. I expected to make a big movie. I expected it to be as big as these superhero movies are. All of that. But being embraced by the internet and the industry and the public and all of that has been so surprising. I can only describe it as an unexpected warm hug.”
8. She’s certain Wonder Woman’s success will have a major impact on studios’ interest in telling women’s stories and hiring female directors.
“I would be very surprised if it didn’t happen at this point,” Jenkins said. “They might just try to replicate the same kind of movie. But nevertheless, I think it would be hard not to notice this [success] and have that change the movies that studios are green-lighting — particularly in the fact that the old formulas are not so rock-solid. The kind of movies they have thought were the blockbusters, several of those have done badly this summer. So I think it would be hard not to notice the two things.”
9. And she can’t wait to have more fun with Wonder Woman in the sequel.
Jenkins said she wasn’t sure at first if audiences would respond to Wonder Woman’s blend of action, comedy, and romance. For the sequel, she said, “I feel much more inspired to continue on that balance.” But she can’t wait to bring another element to the franchise: sheer fun.
“There’s always a struggle in an origin story to get to the point where that superhero exists, and now I’m dying to just let loose and have a great time with her,” Jenkins said. “Not for the whole movie, but in moments. I’m excited to see her power really soar, and us have a great time having a great Wonder Woman in our world. That’s what I’m craving.”
Adam B. Vary is a senior film reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Adam B. Vary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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HOLLYWOOD — As Leslie Jones walked through the Tower Bar in the Sunset Tower Hotel on a sunny Wednesday morning, sipping a Starbucks iced green tea, an elderly white woman quickly got up from her table to stop her. “I’m sorry, I just had to tell you how happy I am we have a voice out there like yours,” she said, reaching out to shake Jones’ hand. “Don’t let them stop you.”
Jones initially seemed startled — which isn’t surprising considering all the negativity the comedian has endured from the public — but halfway through the unsolicited vote of confidence, she softened and thanked the woman for her support.
Later, Jones admitted that kind of thing happens to her all the time. Not only because she’s a 6-foot-tall dark-skinned black woman with a signature spiky hairstyle that only makes her taller, but also because she is one of the top comedians of the moment. And no, not just “top black female comedian” — she’s not here for all the extra labels, never has been.
“It’s not about the struggle or anything, just call me what I am.”
“It’s obvious I’m black, it’s obvious I’m a female, why can’t I just be called a comedian? You don’t say a white female comic, you don’t say a white male comic, but obviously, because I’m black, you have to put that on there. We all have this problem. We gotta stop labeling shit. It’s not about the struggle or anything, just call me what I am,” Jones said from a quiet table in the corner of the restaurant. “I hate getting introduced like, ‘Oh y’all ready for a female!’ at comedy shows because it’s basically like asking, ‘Are y’all ready for a unicorn? Are you ready for this horsey to come up and start eating fire?’ Like, what the fuck? Are we freaks? We’re not.”
If you look at the pie of successful mainstream comedians, black women hold a very small slice. And Jones has managed to have the kind of career any comedian would dream of. She’s gone from BET’s stand-up show Comic View to NBC’s critically acclaimed sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live; from appearing in lower budget movies like 2010’s Lottery Ticket to costarring in blockbusters like the 2016 Ghostbusters remake.
But Jones, a 49-year-old Memphis native, couldn’t care less about being the comedian of the moment — she just wants to make you laugh.
“I’m so glad to get paid for it, but this is what I’d be doing either way,” said Jones, who has spent the majority of her career doing stand-up in local clubs like The Comedy Store in Hollywood and opening up for comedians like Katt Williams and Dave Chappelle. “I love making people laugh, especially making someone laugh that don’t usually laugh. Oh, I love it so much.”
That rush ignited Jones’ desire to become a comedian as a child. “I was watching Richard Pryor, and he had cracked this one joke that made me laugh so hard and made me think, Does this guy know about my life?” she said, gesturing to her heart. “It was just that feeling from laughing really, really hard and getting that tickling feeling in your stomach — it was that. I wanted to make people feel like that.”
That’s what’s on Jones’ mind as she tackles her next big career milestone and the reason she was in LA on the first day of summer: She’s this year’s BET Awards host, an honor that has been held by comedy icons like Jamie Foxx, Kevin Hart, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, Monique, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Anthony Anderson. It’s a role that hadn’t been given to a woman to handle solo since Monique hosted the show for her third time in 2007.
“I really want to bring comedy forward. That’s what I’m using this opportunity for: to do more stand-up. That’s what I want people to know me for,” said Jones as she widened her eyes and leaned forward with excitement. “I want Sunday’s show to be the most joyous occasion ever. I want it to be a shut-out of hate. I want people to be laughing, shoulders relaxed. I remember watching the BET Awards and watching people enjoy it — that’s what it’s supposed to be about.”
It feels like hatred toward minorities has grown stronger in the current political climate, so making people laugh feels particularly necessary to Jones, who believes the Trump administration is more of a result of America’s problems as opposed to the cause of them. “I get it, Trump is one of the worst presidents we’ve ever had. We’ve lived through bad presidents before,” she said. “The problem is this world isn’t functioning correctly because we don’t care about each other, we don’t care about ourselves. We’re hurtful, we’re mean, there’s just no joy right now. Don’t blame it all on Trump — it’s not just on him. He’s a result of our hate, of our pain, and that’s real talk.”
Jones has experienced that kind of hate firsthand since starting on SNL as a featured player in October 2014, but particularly as she geared up to promote Ghostbusters last summer. “I should be the greatest example of not being downtrodden with all the shit that’s happened to me this year and I’m still fucking walking, because that’s life, man,” she said. “You have to do right when wrong is being done to you.”
“I’m still fucking walking, because that’s life, man.”
“All the shit” that Jones is referring to is the online abuse she’s had to bear from internet trolls, which reached such horrific levels it called into question Twitter’s harassment policies. In July 2016, Jones tweeted some of the awful messages she was receiving from men who called her everything from an ape to the source of AIDS. The situation got so bad, Jones took a Twitter hiatus for self-care, after which her supporters and friends created the #LoveForLeslieJ hashtag to call attention to the situation and to encourage the comedian. Eventually, Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey reached out to Jones to help her shut down some of the accounts targeting her, and she returned to Twitter a few days later. But that didn’t stop someone from hacking her website and leaking her personal information and photos.
And yet, after all of this, she’s still managed to rise above.
In the beginning, Jones admitted that she would clap back when people came at her on Twitter because she is a comic after all. But eventually she learned doing so only gave her haters the platform they were looking for. “I was like, ‘Oh, let me not help them do that,’ because most times the things they’re saying are nonsense, so why pay attention to it? It’s like someone coming at you saying your shirt is blue and you’re like, ‘Obviously my shirt is black,’” said Jones in the type of tone reserved for someone who has gotten on every single one of your nerves. “Why fight that? It’s dumb.”
“Bring some goddamn laughter or stop calling yourself a comic.”
Now she says the only way to combat hate is to love it away, which is why she’s putting the call out to comedians to get back to making people laugh. “Because when you laugh, you’re able to let go of your troubles and you’re able to be a little bit more clear about what it is you need to do,” Jones said. “I’m so tired of comedians trying to teach people. Your job is not to teach people; it is to make them laugh. And if we can laugh about the pain, then we can get taught somewhere else. There’s no laughter in this world right now, at least not no pure laughter. And anytime any comedian steps up with the bullshit, they are making people hate us. Step up with some funny shit, don’t step up with that political controversial shit. … Bring some goddamn laughter or stop calling yourself a comic.”
Stand-up is having a resurgence, thanks to Netflix and HBO specials featuring comedians like Dave Chappelle, Jerrod Carmichael, and, of course, Kevin Hart, whose shows now play in movie theaters nationwide. But the traditionally subversive art form is having a bit of a hard time in the new social media era, where activists are ready to check every joke a comedian makes, as Chappelle experienced firsthand when his long-awaited Netflix special included transgender jokes that were not received well.
“That’s another thing we need to work on as a society is walking around offended. Jesus wept,” Jones said, quoting the shortest verse in the Bible without cracking a smile. “You will not be able to live your life if you’re constantly walking around offended. And I’ll tell you, that’s a young problem too. When I was young, I used to get offended about anything. When you get older, you have to stop being offended; because when you like yourself, you don’t get offended so fast. When someone says my feet are big, I laugh because yes, I got some big-ass feet and I’m 6 feet tall. Comedians’ job is to point out what’s going on in society and make it funny.”
Jones’ ability to emerge from all of the online vitriol hurled at her still smiling, still making jokes on Late Night With Seth Meyers and on the Emmys stage, still wanting to make people laugh, is years in the making. “I’ve always been picked on, so you learn how to have a tough skin,” she said. “Also, I believe in God — I have a high spiritual level that allows me not to look at people as attackers, but as people who have a lot of pain that they need to deal with.”
In allowing herself to let go of the hate, Jones has also started to enjoy what being famous offers her, like trips to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics, selfies with Adele (or “‘Dele” as she called her when she asked for a photo), and compliments from Beyoncé.
“She told me she was a fan. I was like, ‘But you’re Beyoncé. You Bey,’” Jones remembered with the same shocked expression any mere mortal would have over being praised by the queen. “I kept calling her Bo-niece. She finally asked me, ‘Why do you keep calling me Bo-niece?’ and I said, ‘Because you know nobody is calling you Beyoncé in Texas!’ She was like, ‘You wrong for that, you so wrong for that.’”
“I can’t explain how many realisms come to you when someone close to you dies.”
Moments like that showcase why people can’t help but love Jones: She says what’s on her mind unabashedly, no matter who is listening, and will joke on you no matter how many Grammys you have. She simply gives zero fucks, from the tips of her signature hairstyle to the bottom of her big-ass feet.
And while that mindset brings her peace now, it was born from tragedy. “My brother died,” she said, pausing before adding, “I don’t want to bring the conversation down, but I can’t explain how many realisms come to you when someone close to you dies and how much stuff you don’t care about anymore.”
It was that new attitude that gave Jones the confidence to finally wear her hair the way she does now in public. “I always wore my hair like this at home because whenever I’m off, I just don’t comb my hair. I always liked the style, but I wouldn’t wear it out. Then someone called me out to do a comedy show last minute and I didn’t feel like combing my hair, so I came out and they were like, ‘Yo! That is dope, yo!’” she said, mocking the way men catcall women on any given city block. “And I was like, ‘Wait, y’all like it?’” she continued with her jaw dropped. “And I’ve been wearing my hair like that ever since.”
As for what’s next for Jones — you know, after she hosts BET’s biggest night — she has another season of SNL coming this fall, when she’ll be the only black woman left on the show. But Jones is not about to play Bo-niece or Michelle Obama every weekend now that Sasheer Zamata’s departure has left those impersonations open. “Nothing bothers my creative process,” she stated plainly when asked if she had any concerns about Zamata’s exit affects her work on the show. “I do what I want to.”
Further down the line, Jones would also love to have her own stand-up special — possible titles include Don’t Sit in the Front Row and This Bitch Is Crazy — and another feature film. “I would like to do a serious role in a movie, just because I like when comedians do serious roles, but I do know I’d probably have to be in another funny movie first,” she said.
Ultimately, she’d like to have a career like Whoopi Goldberg’s. “She’s the biggest person I influence my career after,” Jones said. “She has everything, she has the EGOT [Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony]. I always used to say, ‘I want to be like Whoopi, but Leslie.’” (For the record, Jones is open to doing Broadway: “If I was asked to do something there, I’d do it. That would be cool.”)
For Jones though, this is already a level of fame she only once fantasized about. “When I was doing stand-up comedy, way before SNL, I used to say, ‘I want to be big, I want to be real famous,'” she said. “I used to say, ‘I want to be where people come up to me who are on those tours and say, ‘Leslie Jones, we wanna take a picture with you.’”
And now, “that actually happened to me,” she said with a smile. Better yet, people in LA restaurants stop her to tell her how happy they are to have a voice like hers out there. Nope, nothing can stop Leslie Jones. ●
The elites got it wrong. Politics is about the lives of all of us, and the wonderful campaign that I was involved in and proud to have led brought a lot of people back into politics because they believed there was something on offer for them.
But what was even more inspiring was the number of young people who got involved for the very first time, because they were fed up with being denigrated, fed up of being told they didn’t matter, fed up of being told they never participated and fed up with being told their generation was going to pay more to get less in housing, health, pensions and everything else, and that they should accept low wages and insecurity as a part of life.
He went on to appeal for equality, touching on the recent “horrors” of the Grenfell Tower incident.
That politics that got out of the box [in the election] is not going back into the box because we are demanding something very different in our society and lives. Is it right that so many people in our country have no home to live in, and only a street to sleep on?
Is it right that so many people are scared of where they live because of the horrors of Grenfell Tower? Is it right that so many people live in poverty in a society surrounded by such riches? Is it right that European nationals contributing to our society don’t know if they’re going to be allowed to remain here?
He also spoke about war and the “denigration” of refugees saying they should be “supported” not ostracised.
Let’s stop the denigration of refugees – these are people looking for safety in a cruel and dangerous world. They are human beings, just like all of us hear to today. Let’s support them in their hour of need, not treat them as a threat or a danger.
Let’s look at instability and problems around the world. Let’s tackle the causes of war, and let’s look to build a world of human rights, of peace, of justice and of democracy.
Apparently back in 2010, Ed bought a one-way ticket to LA in hopes of making it big. He stopped by Jamie’s satellite radio show, “The Foxxhole,” and introduced himself as an aspiring singer. After doing an impromptu audition, Foxx invited Sheeran back to his ~crib~ to stay, until he essentially got his shit together.
Even though Jamie let him crash, he had to make sure that Ed was worthy. Apparently Foxx told him, “Listen man, I think you’ve got the goods but I’ve got to check you out.”
The 2011 DreamWorks Animation movie Kung Fu Panda 2, directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson (pictured, left), earned $665.7 million worldwide. And Disney’s 2013 juggernaut Frozen, co-directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee (pictured, right, with producer Peter Del Vecho), earned $1.28 billion globally.
Here’s what she told the publication:
“I think he’s misunderstood,” she says. “Just because I choose to be a socially conscious artist, and I’m pretty good at it, that doesn’t mean every artist is going to be equipped to be politically correct. I don’t think he’s inherently homophobic, I think he’s in a tough place of trying to explain what he means. I agree his apology was bullshit but I can’t police everybody.”
GP: My dad gave me the best advice pertaining to every situation. In my twenties I was having trouble with one of my girlfriends who I had known since grade school and he said, “You can’t make new old friends.” And it really stuck with me. That’s actually a piece of advice I think you can apply to other things too. But it’s like, the value in time. You know, it’s sort of like what you were saying with Cash, like, the value that’s created when two people make a commitment, whether it’s a relationship or a commitment or a parent-child relationship — to commit to the commitment is very powerful.
JA: It is very powerful. I think people who come from my kind of background feel like certain things aren’t meant for you because your circumstance is different. And my mom was always like, you can have absolutely anything you want in this world if you work hard.
GP: It’s true.
JA: And so that stuck with me from day one.
GP: She must be so proud of you! I feel like I always learn something when I sit next to [Jessica]. Like you always are surprising in the best way, with your answers. It was nice to hear what you just said about your mom and your family.
JA: You know what I think is great about our show [Planet of the Apps] is we’re not reality TV folks, obviously. People get to see a side to Gwyneth and I — I got to see and learn a side to her that’s, she’s so freaking smart but so emotionally intelligent. And I think that’s something that you can’t really learn. You either have it or you don’t. I haven’t seen a lot of actresses that have been emotionally intelligent in this way, and I really appreciate it.
GP: Thank you! That was so nice. Thank you.
She told Allure: “I have much more to offer than my physical appearance, and a hijab protects me against [comments like] ‘You’re too skinny,’ ‘You’re too thick,’ ‘Look at her hips,’ ‘Look at her thigh gap.’ I don’t have to worry about that.”
Rebel Wilson got us excited for Pitch Perfect 3, Lucy Hale got emotional over PLL, and more!
June 23, 2017, 16:14 GMT