The mother-daughter film duo of Amy Poehler and Hadley Robinson is the perfect match. The first, a 49-year-old from Massachusetts, was proclaimed a comic genius after joining the cast of Saturday Night Live (1975 to present), gave birth to the meme of “very cool mom” in Mean Girls (2004) and winning a Golden Globe for playing super competitive Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation (from 2009 to 2015). Her 26-year-old Vermont-born co-star, meanwhile, appeared in Little Women (2019) and I’m thinking of ending it here (2020) in preparation for its big debut.
And now… together in Girl power – The revolution begins at school, a socially conscious high school comedy directed by Poehler herself, in which Robinson plays the lead, Vivian, a shy teenager who re-examines her priorities after meeting Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Peña), a very confident new student, and after discovering that her mother (Poehler) was part of an underground feminist punk movement in the 1990s: le riot grrrl. Inspired by her mother’s past, Vivian starts a magazine against sexism in her community, secretly distributing it to her peers. This ignites protests, campaigns and, finally, a real revolution.
To celebrate the release on Netflix set for March 3, we spoke to the actresses about Poehler’s return to the stage at Golden Globes alongside Tina Fey as co-host, on the changing of the guard of the industry following the #MeToo movement and on why the artistic creation process is as important to them as the final product.
Hadley Robinson aka Vivian in Girl Power – Revolution Starts at School
© Netflix 2020
Girl power – The revolution begins at school is based on the novel by Jennifer Mathieu Moxie. Amy, when you first read it, what impression did Hadley, the character who inspired Vivian, who is the beating heart of the film, make on you?
Amy Poehler: “The whole process took place internally. Kim Lessing, a producer from my company, Paper Kite, came to me with the book and said, ‘You should read it.’ I immediately thought it could be an incredible movie. We developed it with Jennifer and relied on Tamara Chestna and Dylan Meyer for the script. Vivian goes through considerable changes in the film, and at first we see her watching others. There are several inner turmoils that he needs to express. Hadley does this in an extraordinary way. She is sweet, curious and can do a lot when she listens. “
Hadley Robinson: “Vivian’s superpower is her ability to absorb information. The first thing I did was sit down with Kim Lessing and discuss the issues raised by the script. Then I auditioned and I was nervous, but when I walked into that room, I felt at home. And I thought, ‘I really want to work with Amy!’ “
Amy, you described your movie Girl power- The revolution begins at school as a coming-of-rage story. What do you mean by that?
AP: “There is often a very patriarchal way of telling a story. Normally, there is a loner who knows what he wants and forcibly pushes his way to get it. However, I’ve always been drawn to movies that show people trying to understand, in real time, the things they really care about and what they intend to do about it. This I mean how a coming-of-age story. Vivian lights the flame and the fire spreads. As I was preparing for this film, I tried to put the characters in a varied range, to show where they were when the change took place. Some, like Lucy, played by Alycia Pascual-Peña, are at the forefront, while for Vivian it’s a long way. “
HR: “One of the first things you said to me was’ I want this to be complicated. I don’t want Vivian to be perfect. He’s wrong and sometimes he makes people suffer, but that’s okay. ‘ It’s all part of the process. “
Girl Power – The revolution begins at school: a scene from the film
© Claudette Barius / Netflix 2020
Vivian is inspired by her mother’s riot grrrl past. Are you both fans of the movement?
AP: “I was a huge fan of music and especially Kathleen Hanna, the lead singer of the punk band Bikini Kill, but I wasn’t part of that scene. I wasn’t cool enough. In the 90s I was in the Chicago comedy world and obviously every comedian is obsessed with rock stars, and every rock star thinks he’s a comedian. [ride]. Being part of Gen X, I was fascinated by the nostalgic side of this story. People my age or older will be awakened by several memories of nineties activism, and what we did right or wrong. My dream is for women to watch it with their daughters “
HR: “I didn’t know about the riot grrrl movement, nor Kathleen Hanna or Bikini Kill, so it was a lot of fun to learn about the music and the story behind it. I saw the documentary about Kathleen Hanna, The Punk Singer , and I fell in love with it. I think the music of this film will remain with people. “
How did you perfect your mother-daughter bond before filming began?
HR: “In one of our first meetings there was coffee, biscuits and an exchange of views on our love for binders. I had a binder with all my notes and Amy and I bonded about that. There was chemistry [ride]. “
AP: “I felt a very maternal transport towards Hadley. I know what it means to be in all the scenes every day. It’s hard work and I knew she was going to make it, but I wanted to make sure she felt ready and rested. The people who took part in this film blew my mind and their mental health was very important to me. The art process doesn’t have to be chaotic or traumatic to be special. That process is just as important as the final product. This year we have been reminded that life is short. We need to feel safe and supported in the workplace. “
In this regard, the feminist awakening that manifests itself in Vivian’s high school in Girl power-The revolution begins at school mirrors what happened in the industry following the #MeToo movement. Were you able to notice a real change?
AP: “A true activist never believes he has come a long way, but in the past 20 years I have seen changes in the kinds of stories that are told and in the people who tell them. There has also been a change of guard in the people who make the decisions about what is produced, and this is exhilarating. But one thing he taught me Girl power- The revolution begins at school is that we have so much to learn and, as we get older, we would have things to unlearn. There are moments in the movie, when Vivian tries to make things better but doesn’t understand the lattice she’s getting entangled in. [ad esempio quando dice a Lucy di ignorare il suo bullo]. Many of us can empathize by rethinking our attitude. “
What impact do you hope the film will have, particularly on young women?
HR: “The most important thing is to start a conversation and equip women to empower themselves, and understand that together we are stronger.
AP: “I would also like people to feel less alone in this lonely time. We miss our friends, school corridors and that feeling of gathering. We are in California and everything has been closed for a while. I follow the rules strictly, so I haven’t done much and haven’t gone anywhere. “
But, Amy, you will co-host the Golden Globes with Tina Fey. What can we expect?
AP: “Tina and I will lead from both coasts. Tina will be in New York and I will be in Los Angeles, so we’re going to have a lot of fun. We will also try to raise funds for important causes. I didn’t think the Golden Globes would be held. Who wants to deliver anything to someone right now? Maybe we could send the winners an electronic prize that they can open by email? [ride] Fortunately, we are not the ones who decide. “
Girl power- The revolution begins at school will be available on Netflix from March 3, 2021