Rashida Jones may be best known for her roles on Parks and Recreation and Angie Tribeca, but the actor, producer, and advocate is just as busy behind the camera helming inclusive projects like Claws. The producer and actor sat down with Refinery29 at the grand reveal of LA’s Beverly Center shopping mall to share how limited representation in the makeup chair has led her to fight for more realistic beauty standards as a Hollywood producer. Check out the following interview, then catch the season 3 finale of Claws this Sunday on TNT.
The following was told to Erika Stalder and has been edited for length and clarity.
Finding Representation — And The Best Light — In The Makeup Chair
“When I first started acting, I remember there being very limited options for foundation. I remember always feeling like any job I got, they would get my skin shade wrong. It was either too green or too light — I was kind of in the middle and they didn’t prepare for the middle. As time’s gone on, there’s more people who look like me, so there has to be a market that caters to people who look like me, which has been great.
"Lighting has also been a big issue. If you’re doing a scene with a person who’s pale, they have to light you differently and it changes the way that a cinematographer, director, and cameraman or camerawoman (hopefully) works. I’ve seen that grow as well. It’s been forced to evolve like everything else.”
"The storytelling ... has to feel different from the Super Bowl commercial ladies that everybody objectifies."
From A Player To A Coach
"I’m in a unique position because I’m in film and television. I'm a producer and can be a part of this discussion so we can actually help affect the demography of what’s represented on TV and film."
Busting More Than Beauty Standards
"With Claws, it was very important to the network, to us as producers, and the creator, that the cast looks the way that it does — which is the way the country looks. We wanted an actual representation of diversity. But in terms of the aesthetic and the style, I think it really came from the creator, Eliot Laurence, who really wanted this elevated, outlandish, fun, playful, surreal vibe like [Spanish Filmmaker] Pedro Almodóvar's work, which was a huge reference point. That means playing with color, sexuality, and really letting these women have their own individual looks that are so distinct from each other.
"We’re way far away from actually shooting anything [for the tentatively titled Kevin Can F*** Himself, a show told from the widely dismissed and disproportionately hot sitcom wife’s point of view]. But the whole point of the concept of the show is to lean into the almost absurd and conspicuous dichotomy between how women are portrayed in the role of the sitcom wife and how these women actually look and feel. Part of the storytelling will be creating a grittier, more realistic look to the character of the sitcom wife. It has to be, because it has to feel different from the Super Bowl commercial ladies that everybody objectifies."
Why Beauty Is Poised for Broader Representation
"There’s always these two diametrically opposed trends I find with everything culturally, which is the oppressive trend and the freeing trend — and I think that’s true for beauty right now, too. There’s this impossible standard of beauty that kind of all looks the same and then there’s the other trend, which is being comfortable with (and the best version of) yourself, which is the one that I’m more interested in. It’s one of those things where if there’s a demand, you have to create a supply.”
Being The Change On Social Media
"It’s hard because we’re constantly looking at ourselves and we change things before we put it out into the world as content. I try my best to be cognizant of that with my own social media. Yeah, sometimes I’ll post a picture of myself because I feel really good and I have my makeup and my hair done, but then I’ll also post a dance video where I don’t have my hair and makeup done because that’s what I look like that day. I’m not just going to have inaccurate range of what I look like on a daily basis.
"I think the thing is to encourage people to be honest and create a range of visual representation of their lives that doesn’t just capture the best, most elegant, sexist moments. That alone creates more diversity in beauty."