Evan Rachel Wood Talks Feminism & Befriending Ellen Page

When discussing women's issues, it's easy to get caught up talking about, well, women. But, Evan Rachel Wood argues that the female sex is only part of the equation. According to the actress, educating men is also an important part of empowering women.
As the face of Gucci Guilty fragrance, the actress has become an adamant supporter of the brand's Chime for Change campaign, which promotes education, health, and justice initiatives for women worldwide. We sat down with Wood at the campaign's KidSave Weekend Miracles Camp in Malibu, where she discussed how she believes that teaching her son to value himself is an important step in teaching him how to respect women. In addition to the topic of feminism, we chatted with Wood about working with Shia LaBeouf, becoming close pals with Ellen Page, and her intense next movie, Into the Forest.

What are the major goals you want to reach with your work through the Chime for Change?
"Empowering women. I feel like so many of us are made to feel powerless, and our self-esteem is so affected. I think that’s the main thing that will start to spark a change — if women start believing that their voices matter and that the things they do can make a difference."

On Chime for Change's website it says that one in three women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. As a mother, how do you plan on teaching your son how to treat women?
"By example. His father and I have a very loving and healthy relationship, and I think that’s what you have to do: You have to be the change that you want to see. I believe this is also an issue of empowering men. When we constantly say things like, 'Oh, he couldn’t help it, he’s a man,' or, 'He attacked her — what did you expect?' you’re also demeaning men. You’re basically saying that they’re no better than a wild animal or something, and that’s just as damaging. So, I would hope to teach him that he is a strong, smart, loving individual. And, that everyone is a person. Don’t just be nice to someone because they could be your daughter, your sister, or your mother, but because they’re people and everyone should be treated equally. That’s what I would hope to instill in him."


What advice do you wish you had been given when you were younger?
"It gets better. And, you’re not alone. I think when I was younger, I felt like I was the only one going through certain things or that no one understood me. I didn’t really talk about my problems, and I didn’t reach out and ask for help. I think that’s one of the best lessons I learned: It’s okay to be vulnerable; it’s okay to ask for help. Talking about things always helps and letting yourself feel things were very important lessons that I had to learn."

Tell us about your upcoming movie, Into the Forest?
"I’m so excited. It’s a really intense film — I feel like I’ve never seen a movie like this. It’s starring two young women. We’re the heroes of the film. We’re taking care of ourselves, and we’re warriors in it. So, I think it’s really refreshing to see a film with two very strong leading ladies taking care of themselves. It takes place in the not-so-distant future. Everything is ending — there’s no water, there’s no gas or electricity. Life as you know it just ceases to be."

What’s Ellen Page like to work with?

"She’s absolutely wonderful. I loved every minute of filming. As intense as the movie is, we actually laughed a lot and had a really good time. She’s one of those people that can turn it on and off. It’s kind of scary how quickly she can do it — she’s literally laughing one second, and then the next she’s in character. Her whole face changes. She morphs into what she’s doing, and it’s really fun to watch.

"But, we really took care of each other. We had to go to deep, vulnerable places in the film, and we were always there holding and hugging each other — like real sisters helping each other through the whole process. We got really close. We knew we were going to do the film a year before it was made, so we spent as much time as possible together so we could really bond and so the relationship was believable. She’s one of my closest friends now."
Photo: Courtesy Of Rex USA.

You also recently starred alongside Shia LaBeouf in Charlie Countryman. What was it like working with him?
"I really liked working with Shia. I know he’s got this crazy reputation, and I knew that going into it, but, honestly, as an actor he’s very hardworking and very focused and very professional. He’s good, you know. It’s like, you can say what you want about him, but at the end of the day, he delivers a really amazing performance. So, everyone’s got their own process. I just kind of let everyone be who they are. But, I really liked the movie we did together — I think we turned out something pretty good."

You recently tweeted about the Vanity Fair cover shoot from 2003. You said that you've since found your voice and are able to stay true to yourself. Did that come naturally with age, or is it something you deliberately worked on?
"I deliberately worked on it. I used to be painfully, painfully shy and insecure. I didn’t think what I had to say mattered, or thought people were going to get mad at me. It was something I definitely had to work on. You have to learn how to stand up for yourself. You don’t have to be a diva or be spoiled or anything, but you have to learn how to say no. Learning to say no is one of the most important things I learned. And, just taking care of yourself and staying true to who you are. It sounds simple, but it’s very hard to do. Especially in this industry — it’s pretty wild."

What were some other roadblocks you faced in learning to gain confidence?
"I really struggled with self-esteem. It didn’t really matter how many people said, 'You’re beautiful and talented.' If you don’t believe it, it’s not really going to mean anything. It has to come from within. I honestly think becoming a mom really helped me with that. It really makes you feel like you can do anything. So, I owe a lot to my son for that."

How do you tread the line between what you're expected to do for your job versus what you're comfortable doing? And what’s your advice for women doing the same?
"It’s difficult, and I think everyone struggles with that. But, you know when something doesn’t feel right. I would always say just go with your gut. There have been so many times when I could feel it in my gut and I knew something wasn’t right or I knew I shouldn’t do something, but I talked myself out of it and I did it anyway, and I was always right. I really think we have a weird sixth sense that lets us know we’re in a dangerous situation, whether it be emotionally or physically or peer pressure or anything. I would just say to always listen to that, and don’t be afraid to walk away."

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