Gillian Anderson offers advice to aspiring actors in Brandeis talk

Gillian AndersonPhoto/Getty Images

Anderson during the 2021 Golden Globes ceremony

In a conversation hosted by Brandeis, TV, film and stage star Gillian Anderson told fledgling female actors to build their self-confidence.

"There's a lot of rejection ... and so it takes perseverance and self-belief," she said. "If I were to give advice, it would be at this stage to work as hard as possible at strengthening your self-esteem, so that when the knocks come, they don't knock you over."

Fresh from winning a Golden Globe earlier in the week for her portrayal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Crown," Anderson joined Brandeis professor Alice Kelikian, chair of the film, television and interactive media program, for a talk on Friday, March 5. The event was hosted by the film, television and interactive media program, the history department and The Edie and Lew Wasserman Fund.

Anderson's career catapulted to stardom with her portrayal of Dana Scully in the Fox TV series "The X-Files." Her character's popularity coincided with a boost in women pursuing careers in STEM fields, which some call the "Scully Effect." A 2018 study by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media claimed that more than 60% of women who work in STEM say Dana Scully served as a role model for them. 

"It's unfathomable, you kind of think, really? Is that possible?" Anderson said Friday.

While Anderson is best known for her work in television, she also has a passion for theater. She played Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire” in a 2014 production, a role she first played in high school. She prepared for the production for about 10 years, she said.

"It almost feels as if we share DNA somehow," Anderson said. "... I think with literature like that, when you take something on that is as profound as [Tennessee] Williams' writing, on some level you do share DNA in the doing of it."

She has several projects in the works, including plans to play former First Lady and founding member of the Brandeis Board of Trustees Eleanor Roosevelt in an upcoming TV series.

"I've always been enamored of Eleanor Roosevelt, and I think many women, particularly of my age and previous generations, have been drawn to her wisdom and her activism," Anderson said.

Along with advice for women considering careers in acting, Anderson also urged young women to pursue careers in other aspects of film and television.

"There's been a lot more women directors and producers actually working in the industry now than ever before, but it is still, especially in high offices, still predominantly a male industry," she said. "We need more women writers. We need more women screenwriters, we need more women directors of photography and camerawomen."

Read more from the event in the Boston Globe

Categories: Arts

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