For actress Connie Britton, the “Nerdist” podcast is by far the easiest place for her to promote her new movie “American Ultra.” She’s been good friends with host Chris Hardwick for years, and the two of them had a hilarious 90-minute conversation about everything from “Friday Night Lights” to “Nashville” to when Hardwick embarrassingly hit on her while they were once in Vegas.
But despite the casual, pressure-free atmosphere, Britton still got the question that can always backfire: The feminism question. You know, the one that can make people outraged no matter whether stars answer “yes” or “no.”
It started when the two were chatting about Dolly Parton — they’re both big fans, and Britton brought up Parton’s feminism on and off stage. That inspired Hardwick to ask another question, though he hedged when he realized the potential minefield he was walking into. “Hmm, this is a big topic,” he said carefully. “What does feminism mean to you? As a concept when you think of it?”
However, Britton didn’t even hesitate — and deftly navigated the question. “Oh, it just means, you know, thinking of your own value as a woman and as a person. It simply means thinking about yourself in a way that is equal to everybody else around you, which I guess would mean men,” she said. “But, you know, I think everybody should know their own value, men and women. It’s just that I think feminism references the culture — a very sort of ingrained cultural tradition — of women not valuing themselves as fully as they can. So that’s kind of how I look at it.”
You could almost hear Hardwick breathe a sigh of relief. “That’s a really good answer…that was a really great answer, actually!” he said. So Britton continued:
It’s funny, I think feminism got a bad rap for a long time and then nobody ever wanted to use that word, and now I think it’s coming back into vogue a little bit…I don’t like naming things “things.” So I always really want to ask the question: “So what does this mean to me; what is this now in the world now; how is it relatable?” It’s really that simple. And there shouldn’t be anything scary about the word “feminism.” Because I think, truly, it simply is about women knowing their own value, as a throwback to a culture where they were not encouraged to do so.
Then the two moved on to other topics. So to briefly break down how Britton handled such a potentially polarizing subject, she a) gave thoughtful context to the bigger historical picture; b) kept her answer short and to the point; and c) wasn’t judgmental about how other people perceive the word, no matter what their opinion. Those three elements are essentially the way to address any controversial concept — and one that celebrities could keep in mind for any interview.