Drama Actress Roundtable: Hollywood’s Top Actresses Get Real About Real-Life Problems

How do you change the world? Maybe some thoughts from A-list stars might give you a place to start. Six major actresses from Hollywood came together for the Drama Actress Roundtable to get real about current issues. Zendaya (Spider-Man: Homecoming), Jennifer Aniston (Friends), Janelle Monáe (Hidden Figures), Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies), Rose Byrne (Instant Family), and Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange) sat down during a virtual session and really spilled the tea. COVID-19 and civil unrest have captured headlines in recent months, and the end still seems far away. Lacey Rose from The Hollywood Reporter asked the group the questions we all want answers to.



Right out of the gate, Rose asked, “We are living through a unique moment in history, both with the pandemic and more recently, the social unrest. What have you learned about yourselves during this time?”

Bonham Carter answered by speaking to the differences we all have during the same pandemic.

I’m over here in London, and it’s extraordinary that there is one thing that has unified us all and yet we are all having very different experiences, depending on your privilege, your situation economically and also your health. I haven’t been directly affected or known anyone who’s been badly affected by COVID, so it’s the luxury of time that we don’t [ordinarily] have. It’s fascinating that we have to rely on the whole world stopping for us to stop.

And with the Black Lives [Matter] movement, because it’s happening now, we have the time to properly consider it and see what everyone can do about it. People have said, “Do you think it would have happened if COVID hadn’t happened?” And I feel unfortunately not.

Everyone has the time and the space to actually change society on a profound level. But it’s extraordinary living through history. We are very privileged. And I know that this time for me has been utterly precious, and I think I’ll come away with things that are profoundly changed. Also, as an actor, it’s a nice thing because everybody is as unemployed as I am and I don’t have to worry about it. You’re always looking over your shoulder.

Rose asked the group, “You all have giant platforms. How much of an obligation do you feel to speak up in this moment? And what is the weight of that?”

Monáe spoke to her experiences with recent events.

For me, I’m trying to figure out how to channel my anger. That’s my emotion. Black people make up the essential workers who are making sure that we have our packages and our food, and this is not a time for them to reflect in the ways that we, as artists, have the privilege to do. So I’m checking my privilege, and I’m also mourning with my people. One of the things that I learned about me is that I’m not settling for those who say that they’re allies. I’m not settling for lip service. If you want to show me that you’re an ally, it’s going to have to be rooted in acts of service.


This is a moment for Black people to stand our ground and ask more of our systems. Because it can’t just be, ‘We’re going to march with you and do a hashtag,’ it has to be rooted in justice as well. Systemic change has to be made.

Of the many other questions asked by The Hollywood Reporter, there’s one more than brings attention to another important topic: “Many of these projects are relevant in ways you wish they weren’t. The Morning Show delves into the gray areas of the #MeToo movement. Reese [Witherspoon] and Jen [Aniston], as hands-on producers, what kinds of conversations did you have about exploring the complexity of the emotions and the responses to sexual misconduct?”

First to answer was Aniston to say it was about talking about “how dark and messy and unforgiving the world was and is,” not only that but to reveal what’s really going on behind closed doors.

Check out the full interview and video from the Drama Actress Roundtable on The Hollywood Reporter‘s website.