“Women get shit done” would be an appropriate tagline for Hustlers, the upcoming stripper dramedy based on the true story of a group of dancers who decide to scam their wealthy Wall Street clients. And, according to star and producer Jennifer Lopez, it’s also something she realised while working on the film, which was directed and written by women.
“I worked with a lot of men, mostly men directors, mostly men crew, and it is a boys’ club,” Lopez said Saturday during a Twitter livestream. “And when you have all women on the set, it all becomes now more evened out, especially when there’s a woman director, because that’s who’s calling the shots, really. And when you have, further behind that, all women producers, then you’re really talking something special.”
Hustlers was directed and co-written by Lorene Scafaria, and the process of filming only took 29 days. “Women get shit done,” Lopez said to a room full of applause. “We had so much to do, and nobody ever said, ‘No, I don’t think we can get this.’”
Unfortunately, a crew like the Hustlers one is still a rarity. According to a 2018 Celluloid Ceiling study, women only made up 18% of all directors, writers, producers, editors, and cinematographers from 2017’s top 250 grossing films. And films like Hustlers — that is, stories centred around women, and with no male leads — are rare, too: according to a USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study, women made up as low as 28.4% of speaking roles in blockbusters from 2007 to 2017.
“For me, being on the set with all women really just felt like a type of freedom to be myself,” Wu said. “I think so often I’m in these situations where it’s primarily men. I have to act like I’m one of the boys to get respect, or I have to play cute and unassuming to even stay in the room.” Working with the Hustlers team, though, was different. “I don’t have to act like one of the boys. I can just act like me,” she said.
Wu also recounted several times the women in the cast and crew helped her out — there was always someone with a tampon, she joked, but at other times, it felt a bit more serious.
“[We’re filming] this scene, and there’s all this paparazzi, and I’m not used to acting in front of paparazzi. And so I’m a little bit upset,” she recalled. “And [Lopez is] like, ‘What’s wrong?’ I don’t want to cause any trouble, so I’m like, ‘Nothing, nothing, nothing.’ She’s like, ‘No, I see there’s something wrong. What’s going on?’” Wu said that, eventually, she told Lopez that the paparazzi was distracting her. “She turns around. She goes, ‘You guys gotta move.’”
What happens, then, when Jennifer Lopez tells you to move? Wu laughed. “They all just left,” she said.