Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb…
John Patterson interviews Elizabeth Olsen for The Guardian, with an attention-grabbing headline of “I never got a job because of my sisters!”. The quote comes from one frank discussion about the issue:
“[At the age of 10] My parents made me write down a pros and cons list. And the cons just piled up. So I figured I’d keep acting as a hobby until I was older. Because I felt that pressure, and that people would say, ‘Oh, that’s nepotism.’ I decided that as long as I felt confident and worked hard for it, instead of having it handed to me, no one could take that away from me. I don’t have any insecurity about it. I never got any job because of my sisters. I could have pulled a few strings through them, but I never needed to.“
Read the full article here.
Personally, I think Olsen is an exceptionally strong actress. Martha Marcy May Marlene was one of my favourite films of 2011. The actress managed to imbue a sense of recklessness and naivety in a character that remains ambiguous until the final shot. The standard within the film was of an exceptionally high quality and her name, attached to any film in the future, will definitely turn my head. But when I first read a description of the film explaining the plot of a cult group and the fact that Olsen was Mary-Kate and Ashley’s sister, both – equally – gained my attention. Her family was clearly a selling point despite what she claims. Strangely enough, another strange “anti-nepotism” moment appeared on television last night too.
Gazza’s daughter, Bianca Gascoigne appeared on ITV’s The X-Factor. She explained how she has ‘always’ wanted to be a singer and has “sang all her life”. She explained how she simply got drawn into the wrong crowd after featuring on the reality TV programme Love Island. Additionally, last year a member of 90’s boy-band Five managed to gain an audition on BBC’s The Voice, but – like Bianca – failed to get past the first audition. You have to ask yourself – what have these Z-list celebrities done to destroy their contacts in the industry? We live in a world whereby auto-tune can guarantee an appropriate melody, whereby novelty and “the underdog” often gains more success than true talent. Gascoigne even tells Tulisa how she met her out-and-about before then; why didn’t Bianca just ask Tulisa to put her in touch with her agent?
It is no suprise that they failed the auditions – because, if they were of such a high-caliber, appearing on a reality TV show would be professional suicide. The pseudo-humbling nature of these people assume they “want to make it on their own”, when in reality, the paltry screen time they get is exclusively down to their tabloid-salivating audience waiting to see what will happen. Gascoigne seems to believe that by appearing alongside ‘normal’ people, we will accept her as one and the same. But she is not from the same world – in her daily life she must know plenty of agents (or least her own agent must know others), musicians and singers who could help her improve. Whether she doesn’t know how to improve or simply cannot be bothered to put in the time, who knows.
I firmly believe that one of the reasons Elizabeth Olsen was cast in Martha Marcy May Marlene was due to the press-coverage she would garner from her family name. I cannot think of an article that didn’t mention how she was the ‘third’ sister. Indeed, Patterson’s headline makes that connection years after her deserved success in Martha Marcy May Marlene and Silent House. I think she is a brilliant actress but she achieved the success, in part, through the success of her sisters. Any aspiring actress would do the same of course, but lets not pretend it’s not an issue. “I never got a job because of my sister’s” is not strictly true. The difference is that, in addition to the privileged position she is in, she is also an outstanding actress and deserves recognition in her own right – not as a “third” anything.