In August, Elle published a conversation between its September cover star Emma Stone and gal pal Jennifer Lawrence. Elle set up the interview and “listened in,” but didn’t editorialize and let Lawrence’s questions and Stone’s answers stand for themselves, like so:
Yeah, what do you want from the world?
It’s been an interesting thing to ruminate on. I love to ruminate.
You love ruminating.
I can’t really help it.
Has any fruit come from it?
There’s occasional fruit.
Do you care to talk about it?
There’s occasional fruit, and then there are frequent sleepless nights.
On the 0-10 scale of controversial celebrities, with Kanye West being, like, an 11.5, I’d place Emma Stone around an innocuous 2.1. (The only even slightly juicy thing I can think of about her is how shocked she looked when Moonlight won Best Picture at the Oscars two years ago and how reluctant she looked to relinquish her trophy.) So it’s not like a reporter missed out on the opportunity to ask Stone super hard-hitting questions about topics Lawrence skipped over entirely; there’s no elephant in the room here, as far as I know. But it goes along with a trend in magazine journalism right now, in which celebrities have ever-more control over their coverage in print (and forget about social media, where they have total control over what they say), occasionally bypassing entertainment journalists altogether.
But ELLE editor-in-chief Nina Garcia stands by the decision to let the two friends speak for the September issue, and she gets into why in her WWD interview published today:
WWD: From an outside perspective it almost seems like celebrities are getting an unprecedented level of control over their covers.
N.G.: I think that is a problem that a magazine that will go unmentioned here has and, sadly, it’s getting reflected onto us. [The Stone cover] didn’t come from, “Oh, she won’t give us access.” She would give us access. It was something that was offered and I was like, yes, because I had already thought of it for Ariana and it didn’t happen.
Garcia, who took over the magazine this month last year, is referring to a time when Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj were both doing photoshoots in the Hearst office and Garcia noticed a “phenomenal rapport” between them when they stopped by to say hi. And thus a seed was planted, that led the editor to greenlighting the JLaw-Stone interview down the road:
I noticed there was such a phenomenal rapport between them and to be a fly on the wall listening to a conversation about boyfriends, careers and social media — it was so wonderful to see two women supporting each other and have a real friendship. When we had the opportunity to have [Stone and Lawrence] having a fly-on-the-wall conversation, I was like “Yes!,” because I wished I’d done it with Nicki and Ariana.
I am not sure that Nicki and Ariana—both of whom are meticulous about what they say in interviews—asking each other questions would lead to a very critical or revealing conversation, but I bet it would drive traffic. And as magazines continue to reinvent themselves in the digital space, we may end up seeing more of these anyway.