Olivia Wilde Said Women In Every Industry Have To Learn To Play The Sexuality ‘Game’

Actress and activist Olivia Wilde said she had to learn to learn the game of sexuality when it came to meeting with film executives and casting directors. It seems there is a very delicate balance between dressing like an Amish nun and slutting it up but it all depends on who will be at your casting meeting but Olivia had to learn that.   At the Marie Claire “The Power of Presence” event yesterday Olivia said when she first graduated from her East Coast prep school she worked for a famous female casting director.

“I remember an actress coming by in too short a dress, and after she left, the [casting director] said, ‘I didn’t hear a word she said in her audition. Why was she wearing that dress? She’s a joke. I don’t want her in here ever again.’ This girl was never heard from again in our office, so I learned from that.


Then a few days later, I was going for an audition and I was wearing this huge cashmere turtleneck and pants, thinking I looked very ‘executive.’ As I was walking out of the office, Mali said, ‘Olivia, what are you wearing? I said I was going to a meeting, and she said, ‘Oh! You can’t wear that! You have to wear something tight and sexy.’


I was so confused, because I had just learned this lesson of this actress who wore the short skirt and now her career is over. So she said, ‘You’re going to meet a male executive.’ You have to learn this game, you have to learn when to use sexuality and beauty and appearance in general, and when it’s inappropriate. That was my first kind of dunk into the world of Hollywood. It gives you this idea of the contradiction that exists, really in all fields.”

It’s interesting that the female casting director advised her to do this considering the casting couch problem in Hollywood but at the same time, you do need to read your audience. As founder of SheNegotiates and attorney Victoria Pynchon tells young female lawyers, “If warmth, playfulness, and flattery get the job done and they are comfortable expressing themselves in these dimensions, by all means, I counsel, go ahead and use them.”

Wilde should be weary of sleazy casting directors but at the same time she is in an interesting industry because looks are a big focus in her line of work. But you shouldn’t walk into a female casting director’s office in a child’s size medium dress.

The Marie Claire event focused on what it means for women to have ‘executive presence.’ The six different components include: gravitas, confidence and grace under fire, decisiveness, integrity, emotional intelligence, reputation in pedigree and vision. In Hollywood, Olivia said Executive Presence is all about defing expectations. “Everyone expects actors to be stupid and superficial. It’s all about proving them wrong,” she said. So you can wear the tighter dress to the audition with the male executive but you have to show him you have the right stuff.

Photo:  Getty Images/Amy Sussman

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    • http://www.facebook.com/ABCsofConflictResolution Victoria Pynchon

      By the way, being smart and funny, being warm and kind, and using body language that communicates you are in full possession of every dimension of yourself, including your sexuality, is all very “sexy.” Based on comments I’ve seen on my CNN op-ed piece, I think men hear the word “sexy” and conjure up a Hooters waitress or a Playboy bunny. Those are parodies of sexiness, not genuine sexuality which recognizes firm boundaries at the same time it acknowledges the inescapable sexual tension present between men and women. If you are not good at reading other people or if it’s difficult for you to draw and keep boundaries, by all means, do not express your mature sexuality in the workplace.

    • Lastango

      In my experience, the confusion runs in both directions. Women want to be received as professionals, but they also want to be appreciated as women — with the sensuality and sexuality that implies. They want to feel attractive, and that means they want other people to recognize and respond at some level to their attractiveness. So they flirt, with their clothes, accessories, body language, voice, facial expressions, and all the rest of it.
      This can put the people a woman interacts with in a awkward spot. If they don’t respond to her femaleness, she’s disappointed (even angry), feels unaccpeted and unnoticed, and a distance is created. Finding the Goldilocks-zone space can be difficult, especially if there are misleading cues like attire that’s borderline-appropriate.
      IMO, all of that can be a problem whether a woman is meeting a man, or another woman. Perhaps it’s even trickier between women, because judgement and jealousy come into play in ways men don’t usually think about.
      I can appreciate the special problem an actress or a model would have in deciding how to relate to others. She has to show she can hold the camera and attract the public with her looks, and also that she has the maturity to be effective as an entertainment industry professional. And the burden too… I remember reading about a model in New York who explained that she has to dress up a bit just to go grocery shopping. Her exterior is her profession, and she can’t let her appearance go below a certain level because she never knows who she may meet from the industry.

    • JohnnyO.

      Yeah, but a girl like, Olivia, you who can look beautiful at 5 in the morning and can just
      run a comb thru her hair just one time, and still looks sultry, has an easier way to stardom
      than a girl who needs 3 days of rest and 2 hours in make-up to compare to your beauty.
      Be thankful that a smile gets you in, some girl throw-up.