Jessica Chastain On Why Saying No Is Sexy

jess_embed1Photo: REX USA/FLORENT DUPUY.
The word "no" has, for whatever reason, come to represent something negative — a restriction on free will. No, you can't nosh on those snacks before dinner. No, don't wear that because of what it suggests. No, don't say that because it could hurt your career.
Jessica Chastain sees the word differently. It's an empowering term; one that encourages self-confidence and assertiveness.
During a recent sit-down with the actress as she promotes her new movie The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Chastain explained to us the importance of assertive women. Along with fellow actress Jess Weixler, her best friend of ten years, Chastain reflected on assertive women and how to encourage other women to be so. (Hint: friends — real friends, like Jessica and Jess.) But, enough with the build-up. These two women's words speak louder than any summary ever could.

What advice do you have for women trying to work their way up in Hollywood and the workforce in general?

Jessica Chastain: “A struggling actress came up to me — she was really struggling in Los Angeles, and she said she didn’t know what to do because some of her friends were saying she needed to go to all these parties. That’s absolute bull. You don’t need to go to a party to become an actress. You don’t need to schmooze. You don’t need to date someone in the industry. A woman should be comfortable and understand that her value is from her talent and intelligence, and not from her sex. Respect your talent and make sure other people do. A lot of people will try to demean you.”

Jess Weixler: “I think in some ways, as a woman, you don’t want to be seen as hard. You want to be nice and sweet. When men are very assertive, it’s respected. Whereas when women are assertive, they seem harder.”
JC: “But, I’m assertive.”
JW: “Yeah! I think encouraging assertiveness when it’s necessary is key. It’s a sexy quality.”
JC: “Saying no is sexy.”
JW: “Stick to your guns.”
JC: “When something’s not right for you, be it a role or if someone is asking you to do something you’re not comfortable with, you don’t have to please everyone! You know what’s right for you. Saying no and standing up for yourself is the sexiest, most intelligent thing you can do.”
jess_embed2Photo: REX USA/Rex.

Since you guys have known each other for so long, what’s one thing you’ve learned from each other?

Jessica Chastain: “I love Jess being my friend because she teaches me so much about the importance of lightness and fun. She also gets me out of my house sometimes. It’s easy for me to wall myself away and stay home, but Jess has a goofiness and playfulness about her that brings it out of me. (There are very few people in my life who can do that.) I’m much more goofy when she’s around me.”

Jess Weixler: “I don’t think we’d be friends if I wasn’t. She’d be like, ‘You’re boring.’”
JC: “No!”
JW: “I almost can’t get into the list of how much I’ve learned from her as a friend and as an artist. She’s so committed to everything — both her work and the people she loves. When she loves you, she’s there for you; she’ll do anything for you. When she plays a role, she’s in it. She commits fully in a way that I completely admire and look up to. Having watched her handle how much life has changed, I’ve learned to just go with it, with grace. I couldn’t be more proud of my friend.”

What’s the most important thing in forging and maintaining female friendships?

JC: “Encouragement. I feel better when my friends are doing well and I want my friends to feel good if I’m doing well. I definitely believe in the support system of friendship. That, and loyalty.”

JW: “Encouragement is a good word for it. And, total trust, too. You don’t want to feel like someone is saying something different about you when you’re not around. You want to know they have your back and you’re going to protect each other in any situation.”

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