Rose McGowan was the raven-haired, plumped-limped starlet that became Hollywood's it-girl in the late 90s. She came to notoriety for her seductive pin-up girl looks, her salacious romance with Marilyn Manson and risqué media stance that landed her the title of both sex symbol and wild child.
The actress had an atypical upbringing; born into a sect of the Children of God Cult, headed up by her father, that enforced a mixture of ideologies from free-love to the second coming of Christ. But at the age of fifteen, she officially emancipated herself from her parents and pursued an acting career.
She's appeared in acclaimed films by Brian De Palma, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, with cult hits like Scream (1996), Jawbreaker (1999), Charmed (1998–2006) and Planet Terror (2007).
But after a near-fatal car accident in 2007, McGowan took a hiatus from Hollywood. Now she's back in the role of director, and she's putting the movie industry to rights, calling out the rampant sexism she's experienced as an actress
In June this year, the 42 year old took to her Twitter account and shared a casting note that was sent to her, together with a script.
The message asked all actresses to attend their auditions wearing ''Black (or dark) form fitting tank that shows off cleavage (push up bras encouraged). And form fitting leggings or jeans. Nothing white''.
But who was this "mysterious" person? It took both the CSI and Sherlock Holmes to track down the infamous Madam Panhandler. Yes ladies and gentlemen, hold your breaths, it was finally revealed to be.... Adam Sandler. Duh!
Following on from the tweet, the actress expanded on her thoughts about the sexism that she has witnessed in Hollywood
There's like 'dickery' as I call it [in Hollywood], where they're stuck in this Mad Men / Entourage era and it's just boring and it's kind of embarrassing,.
It's old-fashioned and it's like, face palm, it's like, that's not what's going on now in the world, you've gotta change. If film is our number one export, be careful with what we're putting out there because you can do a lot of damage.
However, the fallout from the tweet even took McGowan by surprise, as she ended up being fired by her agent.
Less than 24 hours later, McGowan went to twitter to clarify that her agent, Sheila Wenzel, was not responsible for “firing” her after she took a stand against sexism in Hollywood:
According to the The Hollywood Reporter, Wenzel had already left the company before McGowan's firing.
As the situation started to snowball, more people began to air their opinions on the story. The main theme that people were voicing, was why McGowan? Why has this actress decided to speak out? And why now?
If you know anything of McGowan's career, you may have seen her in movies such as The Doom Generation (1995), Lewis & Clark & George (1997), and Going All the Way (1997) as well as her appearance at the 1998 MTV Music Awards.
If you're not too familiar with the actress, then below are a few snapshots of her in the above films, plus the infamous 1998 "dress".
So, the woman who doesn't mind flashing the flesh in movies and on the red carpet has an issue with a casting note asking her to wear a form fitting tank that shows off cleavage? This is the main issue. How can someone who has no inhibitions about appearing topless for the camera, have a dramatic U-turn on these issues? Is it because she got where she did through sex-appeal, and now she is a little pissed because those looks have faded? Is it because she can no longer compete with the influx of younger, more attractive women, that Hollywood is screaming out for? Or is it because she has grown wiser, and now that she has matured, she feels that her voice is strong enough to make a difference for a woman in Hollywood?
Whatever the reason, people may wonder whether McGowan has regretted her actions, and the resulting consequences? Course she hasn't! And why should she? Talking to Prestige Hong Kong magazine, she said:
Ah, the tweet heard around the world! I think it was good, though it didn't do much for my career. The day after I was walking out of the Lincoln Center screening of 'Dawn', which should have been a high point of my career until I got an email that my agency was firing me! By this point I thought I may as well be a spokesperson for women - if no one else is doing it I might as well be one.
McGowan is clearly a woman who knows how to use her voice, something which she states is her "biggest weapon", to powerful effect for some time now. The actress is not afraid to lash out against a whole range of topical issues that she feels close to, most notably Hollywood's severe ill treatment towards women. She has no negative thoughts about what her stance could do to her career, nor does she care.
Despite her good intentions, she has received criticism from various groups. Many consider her beliefs to be "anti-men," something which she says makes her angry:
Some people have called me anti-men, but why does wanting equality have anything to do with hating men? It's a reductive way to think. In terms of things I want to achieve, there's a lot happening. I want to launch guidelines for Hollywood to follow and I'd like to get DC involved in this. There's so much criminal activity in Hollywood that needs to stop. It's like the police policing themselves - it's not gonna work. I also want to use my films as a platform to give people a voice.
On October 12 this year, she attended an event hosted by No Labels, an organization that looks to reduce the gap between the Democrats and Republicans. Whilst in attendance, McGowan decided to use the event as a platform to slam the group's inadequate diversity, and the fact that they did not meet her desired objective to vote 'yes' on a variety of important topics.
Towards the end of the night, when attendees were prompted to recognize the celebrities in the room, McGowan saw her opportunity to voice her thoughts;
McGowan later explained her behavior via social media.
Her second Facebook message went:
Friends, tonight I took off the public mask of celebrity and revealed who I am. (Sidenote: It was fucking intense.)
A little bit about me- I have lived a very big life... an extraordinary life, and a very private life.
I worked hard to live how I wanted- freely. So I used celebrity as a sort of cover. Behind the scenes, I spent countless hours honing my skills and becoming a master of many disciplines. Directing, writing, music, my photography, animal rescue, volunteering... Acting was my day job. And I worked very, very hard to survive Hollywood and to try not to lose it and stay in tact as a human. It took years to deprogram. I'm almost totally me again. And who I am is an artist on all fronts. Anyway, I've used my time out of the public eye to recover from deaths, catastrophic accidents, tragedies and soulful travel. I built up my strength, survived Hollywood, and patched myself back up and now I've become fully me in public. I no longer care to hide.
I am the daughter of a leader, I come from a family of military men and wildly inventive artists. Thank fucking God.
My dad and mom would be and are proud of me, and really, that's all that matters. All of my years of private activism and volunteering are now public.
So now you know. And like G.I. Joe said,"Knowing is half the battle."
It's nice to meet you all in truth.
If anyone needs proof that McGowan has no fear of voicing her concerns when she feels passionate about change, her attack on bipartisan politics at the No Labels event is clearly it
CNN political reporter Sara Murray was there at the time, and summed up McGowan's speech:
So basically Rose McGowan stood up, insulted the room and stormed out. Quite a way to cap off a night promoting bipartisanship," she tweeted. "Guys, that was so awkward. The organizers did not look pleased.
Which may be the biggest problem for McGowan. Her critics see her as outspoken, someone who needs to go through the right measure to be heard instead of these impromptu "outbursts". In the same way that the Suffragettes caused a lot of anger, and as a result they actually lost support for the right for women to vote, McGowan's actions always seem to divide opinion. But as the Suffragettes proved, in the end, campaigning, hard work and getting your voice heard, can ultimately work wonders.
As she faces a turning point in her career, McGowan has had time to increase her passion for equal opportunities for women. She hosted the fundraiser #YESALLWOMEN on September 19, 2015, which works towards advocating women’s rights. She went on to say:
It was a little under two years ago. I was sitting at my house and the power went out, and it dawned on me that the problem was that I was just in the wrong career, and that I was, in fact, an artist — and not the misunderstood one they made me out to be. I know amazing people in Los Angeles, but a lot of the people in the business that I’ve met so far have looked at me like I’m speaking Swahili, which is really boring. It’s really boring when people stare at you like you’re this oddball. The thing is, what if I’m right? What if being an artist is what it’s about, and the commodity part comes second, not first. It’s important. I realized I was an artist, and within three months I directed my first film, Dawn, which was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and qualifies for an Oscar this year. I’m set to direct a couple more features into next year. I’m really excited about my life right now, and where things are going. I think if you just come out there with some truths, the world will respond.
Her latest venture is into the world of music. In her video “RM486", which is the first song that McGowan has released under her own name, she transforms into five varying figures which represent certain aspects of her life. The “dark beauty” encompasses the early years in her acting career where she was viewed as as a diet-goth icon. The “green hair Hollywood” represents her nervous state as a promoter for a vision other than her own. The “needles” represent her “armor.” The “red glitter bomb” represents her dogged determination, and the alien-looking figure represents her purest form. She went on to tell Vulture:
RM obviously stands for my name, but it’s a play on the abortion drug RU486. It’s twofold. I wanted something that sounded really astral and galactic that kind of matched the tone of the song and where I was coming from with the song, but also, doing interviews, it’s obviously an entry to talk about women’s rights. RU486 is a famously controversial drug, but it’s not about that specifically. Eight or nine months ago they voted down equal pay for women, now they’re trying to defund Planned Parenthood. There is actually a war going on against women, and it doesn’t sit right with me, and it shouldn’t sit right with you or anybody.
McGowan also has many ventures that have been kept under wraps, but she elaborated on them to Vulture:
Well, I’m a businesswoman, I invest in a lot of different businesses. I also have a skin-care line that I formulated over the last nine years that’s going to be coming out soon, and it’s very, very different from anything that’s been sold out there before, of course, it has to be. It’s a very special product, and it’s about giving women a break, because if you’re a white woman, you makes 77 cents to a man’s dollar. If you’re a black woman, and doing well, it’s 66 cents. If you’re a black lesbian, you’re at 46 cents. I’m always looking for ways in life to give women a break.
Personally, I enjoy listening to the political voice and seeing the ballsy stance that this independent woman is taking, especially in Hollywood. Hopefully the days of people, especially women, are long gone, and speaking her mind doesn't result in a threatened career or a destructive aftermath. I, for one, say more power to Rose McGowan!
To sum this article up, I'll leave it to the woman herself, telling dazeddigital.com:
Hollywood is accused all the time by people, 'Liberal Media! They have an agenda!' And you're goddamn right I have an agenda. I have an agenda for people to be better humans.
And I say good luck to her.