Heather Matarazzo shot to stardom in the mid-90s when she appeared as the main character in the 1995 coming-of-age film Welcome to the Dollhouse. Back then she was just 13-years-old, but had already been acting for seven years. Matarazzo literally grew up in the entertainment industry, a business renowned for being harsh. But despite that, and despite having over 20 acting credits to her name, when she was just 19 years old a director told her she had been dropped from a role that she had been attached to for over two years. The reason? Because producers decided she was simply "not fuckable."
Matarazzo's story is, though utterly saddening and disgusting, unfortunately not all that unique. However what the actress decided to do afterwards is a story of empowerment and inspiration.
Writing on her own personal blog, Matarazzo describes the pain and humiliation of having a role you had been excited about, felt connected to and been preparing for for two years being ripped away, simply because a financier decided that you weren't "fuckable."
Heather actually went on to take a lesser role in the film she had originally been destined to star in, simply because she was already so connected to the project and script, she couldn't bare to let the producers ruin all her work with their harsh comments. However, those harsh words that had been used to justify firing her from her lead role was something that she would carry with her for years to come.
Throughout her 20s Matarazzo says that she lost sense of herself, and started to believe the words that the producer had used to describe her. She even started attaching other insults such as "ugly," "loser," and "disgusting," building a horrible image of herself in her head. She found that the roles she was being offered reflected her state of mind - often being sent roles for "plain Janes" or "very large women."
However after years of being stuck in this mindset, Matarazzo had an epiphany: the reason she was being sent roles for "plain Janes" or "very large women," was because that's how people saw her, but the only reason people saw her that way was because that was how she saw herself. After having this realization she began to accept herself, her looks and body for who she was, and soon enough she began to get more and more roles for characters she says were "beautiful, confident, secure, they were complex, they had bite, they had depth."
She had taken this horrible and defining moment from her life and turned it into something positive.
After overcoming her own personal hurdles, Matarazzo has become a huge proponent for equal rights for the gay and lesbian community, as well as a supporter for women's rights in the industry. Recently she stood up for actor Rose McGowan, who was dropped by her agents after posting a sexist casting call, standing alongside a small, but powerful group of women who also believed McGowan was wronged, women such as Lexi Alexander and Jessica Chastain.
With such a big period of her life dominated by a horrible thing a producer deemed appropriate to say about a teenager, it's remarkable that Matarazzo has not only overcome her inner demons, but is now leading the charge in making sure no woman is made to feel like that again. I for one am very glad she's doing so.