Did Melissa Leo Beat Ageism?

Illustration for article titled Did Melissa Leo Beat Ageism?

Melissa Leo won Best Supporting Actress last night at the Oscars, despite the backlash from the vaguely baffling ads she took out for herself, and despite what she'd described as her reason for taking them out in the first place: bias against older women. So what happened?


Back when Leo had self-funded the creation and publication of ads that depicted her glammed up alongside the word "Consider," she told Deadline Hollywood Daily that she was frustrated that she couldn't get on the cover of a magazine. "Leo is 50 years old and she attributes the media's lack of interest to ageism," the reporter wrote. Leo was quoted saying, "I did hear a lot of very positive comments, particularly from women of a certain age who happen to act for a living and happen to understand full well the great dilemma and mystery of getting a cover of a magazine."

The oddity of all this is that while there's no question that Hollywood has issues with women who, in the immortal words of Tina Fey, still talk after no one wants to fuck them, Leo was already a frontrunner for her performance in The Fighter. And the ads just made people mock her.

Subsequently, Leo essentially stopped giving interviews, probably on the advice of her mortified reps, until The Daily Beast's Jacob Bernstein accosted her at a restaurant and ended up hanging out with her at her upstate New York home several hours later.

She told him of the ads, ""I've been busting my ass, trying to get the movie sold and seen, and now I show up where they ask, get put into hair and makeup that they pay for, so I can promote this thing [and campaign]. So I'm a little confused. I thought this is what we're doing. This is what all the girls are doing." Leo adds that she conceived the ads before she was nominated-and if she had known she would wind up in contention for Best Supporting Actress, she might have done things differently. "It didn't seem so nomination oriented," she said. "It was fun."

That rationale is pretty unconvincing — the ads ran after she was nominated too, and she could have pulled them if she didn't want them to be tied in with the campaign, and Leo's move was pretty unusual, not something all the girls were doing.

But Leo seems to have a singular way of expressing herself, to put it diplomatically. She told Bernstein of her personal life, "There's no one special. I find interpersonal heterosexual relationships difficult." When she dropped the Oscars' first f-bomb last night, she apologized backstage and then said, "There's a great deal of the English language that is in my vernacular."


Those pronouncements sort of make Leo sound like an alien, quite the contrast to the gee-willikers and the "fucking" in her acceptance speech. Maybe her "consider" campaign had less to do with ageism and sexism — though they obviously played into the environment — and more to do with the fact that she's kind of a kook, or simply has trouble expressing herself verbally. Ultimately, her performance trumped it all. In fact, she's a woman whose career got better when she hit 40. Now that's something to consider.

Related: Melissa Leo Breaks Oscar Silence [The Daily Beast]
Oscars: Backstage At The Press Room [EW]
Melissa Leo Goes Rogue With her Own Personal Campaign Ads


Lorem Oopsum

With all this ageism in Hollywood, how the hell did Helen Mirren win?