The Girls alum, 35, appeared on the “Women Behind the Words” panel at the Nantucket Film Festival last weekend and recalled some of the comments she received during one of her earliest gigs in Hollywood.
Appearing alongside filmmaker Nicole Holofcener and actress Michaela Watkins, Williams remembered working as a stand-in on the Martin Scorcese-directed pilot of the HBO crime drama Boardwalk Empire, which aired in 2010.
“There’s like 10 stories fighting their way from my brain to my mouth that I’m trying to keep out of my mouth,” The Perfection actress told the crowd, as IndieWire reported. “I guess one of them, just very quickly … people just underestimate your humanity often as a young woman up and coming in our business. I was a stand-in for the pilot of Boardwalk Empire, which was the coolest experience ever, an amazing pilot. It was shot on film. It was incredible. But I was at craft services and a member of the crew came up and said, ‘So what do you do here? You’re the on-set eye candy?’”
Williams went on to say that the exchange was just another example of misogyny she has experienced throughout her career.
“An actor I later worked with who watched me eat a pastry and said, ‘Don’t you want to be successful?’ You know, those kinds of comments come up inevitably.”
Williams went on to credit her Girls creator and co-star Lena Dunham for serving as a voice of reason in the wake of intense criticism.
“For everything like that, there’s like Lena who just so gently, and at basically my same age, would usher me through this very unusual experience and was such an unbelievably talented writer and director, and was able to just get me to breathe and slow down and not do anything, and in doing that, just trust the material and trust that the talent is there,” she recalled.
Back in 2017, Williams told Refinery29 that there have been several experiences throughout her career in which she has been treated differently based on her gender.
“Have there been instances in which I think maybe I’ve been treated differently because I’m a woman? Yes — chiefly by the media,” Williams shared. Despite that, she went on to say that declaring herself as disadvantaged would “be incredibly tone-deaf and self-unaware,” as she has been “so fortunate.”
“I’ve been disproportionately lucky and privileged, and I intend to spend the rest of my life working off that credit by giving back and paying it forward,”