Let's Hear It For The Girls!

The Ella Morris Blog

Ella Morris | Thursday, May 28, 2015

Let's Hear It For The Girls! written by Ella Morris for Downstage Centre, published on Thursday, May 28, 2015(Clockwise from top left:) Juliette Binoche, Lesley Sharp, Sasha Alexander and Amy Poehler: Ella's top 4 inspirational women performers - but who would get your vote?

Everybody has somebody they love to watch or that inspires them in some way – these ladies tick both of the boxes for me.


As an amateur actor, I learn from them. As a spectator my time is well spent. And as a human being, they definitely inspire me.
There are SO many fabulous and inspirational women in the arts out there, but for the sake of your sanity and mine, I’ve narrowed it down to four. They are strong, they are intelligent and they are a credit to their craft – ladies you are welcome round for dinner anytime!


Juliette Binoche

Academy award winning Juliette Binoche is not nicknamed ‘La Binoche’ for nothing. Known for her roles in The English Patient and in Chocolat, she also treads the boards regularly and can be seen reprising her role as Antigone as part of the Edinburgh Festival.
As a student of French cinema, I first discovered Juliette in a period film The Horseman on the Roof and ever since I’ve been hooked. Why? Besides having a real watchable quality, she is never afraid of taking on challenging, dramatic roles that represent all kinds of women. Some such examples include a journalist going behind the scenes of a prostitution ring to a woman ready to risk her life to bury her brother’s body. And BOY does she ‘bring it’.
If you search online for videos or interviews with Juliette you’ll find that it’s all about acting as an art and the truth in characterization – she talks about it with such passion and clarity.
Her film Clouds of Sils Maria is currently in selected UK cinemas.   


Lesley Sharp

Last seen on stage as Helen in A Taste of Honey at The National Theatre and on television as Janet Scott in Scott & Bailey, Lesley Sharp made me want to act. Why? undefinedAppearing in a lot of great British drama over the past two decades, she was (and still is) very good at playing very relatable, salt of the earth, working class people. Lesley Sharp as a person is like that too. She doesn’t like the fame and just sees it like a job. No pretention and no airs. She also, much like Juliette, has a real truth and naturalism to the characters she plays – a window to the soul.


Sasha Alexander

Sasha AlexanderSasha Alexander is a recent ‘discovery’ of mine. She is one half of the television crime duo Rizzoli & Isles and other television roles include Kate in NCIS and Helene in the US version of Shameless.

Her portrayal of Maura Isles, the socially awkward, human Wikipedia chief medical examiner in Rizzoli & Isles is brilliant. It’s so well-thought out and measured. On paper you could stereotype this character as being a bit one-dimensional but on the screen she ends up being one of the most endearing, multi-layered characters I’ve possibly seen on television.


Here’s the thing. When you see somebody new in a play, television programme - whatever, you tend to research what else they have done (providing you liked them!). So that’s what I did. Watch a few of Sasha’s roles on You Tube – see how subtly, yet quite markedly she plays each character so differently. There are a lot of actors out there that are constantly playing slightly different versions of themselves, that don’t truly embody the character that they are playing – it’s a little piece of magic when you don’t get that!

Sasha also co-founded ‘Take Hollywood’, an online community of video resources that supports aspiring television professionals and students with learning their craft. That’s pretty cool. Take a look... www.takehollywood.com

Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler

I love Amy! Amy Poehler is an American comedienne, actress, writer and producer known for Saturday Night Live, Parks & Recreation and films such as Mean Girls and Baby Mama.

She started out travelling across the US with a comedy troupe performing improvisational comedy and later co-founded the UCB theatre in New York – a place to learn and perform improvisational comedy.

The rule of great improvisational comedy is to always say ‘Yes’, hence her book title ‘Yes Please’. This means that in any improvisational comedy scenario, if a fellow comedy performer were to present a situation such as ‘You ate my shoe last night –how dare you?’, however ridiculous that may sound, you have to run with the story. If you were to say ‘No I didn’t’, not only are you not helping your partner out but you have ended the comedy right there, stone cold. That’s not funny. Improvisational comedy can teach us a lot in acting scenarios too. It teaches us to be prepared and to listen. I’ve been in a scenario on stage where in the same scene but in different performances, both I and a fellow actor forgot a line which as a consequence, was followed by a brief pause………until we both stepped in for each other and improvised to keep the story going. A sign of great listening skills and teamwork!

Hilarity aside, Amy is a great role model for young women being a fervent supporter of gender equality. She has set up an online community for young women called Smart Girls, which has the mission statement of ‘change the world by being yourself’. It’s a fantastic little site with so many tales of brilliant women across the world. The community also has a You Tube channel with videos of Amy giving advice to young women. Young or old, we could all learn a lot from Ms Poehler.
So that’s it. These are my ladies.


Who inspires you in the arts? Feel free to share your thoughts below!


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