In what is perhaps the best thing to ever come out of Project Greenlight, Effie Brown is showing how difficult it is to be anything other than a white man working in Hollywood.
In an interview with Indiewire, Brown discusses the contentiousness she faced all season while dealing with white male coworkers who seemed fine working with strong, vocal producers—as long as they weren’t Effie Brown (or, perhaps, people who look like Effie Brown).
Brown recognizes that she can be very direct, but reminds us that she’s as qualified as anyone else at the table. She was hired to keep the film on budget and she did her job well.
“Was I fabulous, always in the right? Heck no. I did a good job. I’m not a man. That’s the thing. I’ve never been anything other than a black woman. I learned what I learned: to reach your goal, you can take several paths. I’m used to taking the direct straight path. If I felt I was not looked at through the male gaze as a female, you bet it would be different. I have to think, the people I’m working with, they don’t think they are misogynistic.”
Brown also suggests that the now infamous exchange between herself and matt Damon—wherein Matt Damon, a rich white man, attempted to explain how exactly diversity works—was actually more heated than it appeared onscreen.
“They had already met and hung out and picked the first 13 contenders. I was the last person coming in. They know each other. That was not the full conversation, to be real. That was a more polite version of that exchange.”
For her trouble of trying to do her job well and help Matt Damon and that roomful of white people be slightly more sensitive to issues they may not have been aware of, Brown now says, “Word on the street is I’m not his favorite person.”
She describes her relationship with the director Marc Joubert by saying it’s in “tatters” and notes that he apparently doesn’t handle conflict well.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Brown has had to work off-camera to ensure that she is being treated fairly in the context of the series itself. She says that she insisted on seeing the first cut of a particularly tense episode and had to fight with Project Greenlight producers to be portrayed fairly.
On the more surprising end of things, Brown reveals that it was Ben Affleck who actually fulfilled the understanding, liberal role that many of us previously assumed belonged to Damon.
“They all saw all these cuts and approved them. Ben Affleck was the cat who had my back. Ben is down. All right, good! That was surprising to me, I thought it would be Matt, who has this liberal reputation. Honestly, I’m grown enough to say, ‘I’m not for everybody, not everybody likes me, and he may be one of those who just can’t stand you.’”
Luckily, Effie Brown doesn’t seem to care that all those comfortable white dudes weren’t her biggest fans. She was just interested in doing her job, making a good film and actually showing a black person making a movie: “We accomplished that.”
This post has been corrected to reflect that Effie Brown said her relationship with Marc Joubert, not Matt Damon, is in “tatters.”
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Screenshot via HBO/Project Greenlight.