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An Ode to Nancy Meyers

March 8, 2021

This pandemic has changed the way I look at movies. I’ve always looked to film for comfort, and this past year was no exception. Movies became an escape from reality, in a way that I’ve never experienced before. I couldn’t see my friends in person, so I would watch a heartwarming movie about friendship and love instead. I couldn’t travel, so movies filmed abroad fascinated me. I was sad and lonely, so old favourites like Disney and early 2000’s movies tucked me in like a blanket. Back in December all I wanted to do was watch Christmas movies, but the one I ended up watching the most was actually Nancy Meyers 2006 The Holiday starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jack Black and Jude Law. I’ve always loved this movie, but this year with everything going on, The Holiday was a perfect fit. Travel, new and old friends getting together, hitting the town… It had everything I wanted to do and more. Not only that, but the characters in the show were so fun and complex that I found something new to enjoy every time I watched it (which admittedly, was a lot).

Kate Winslet plays a woman named Iris, stuck in life and in love with a man who doesn’t love her back. She decides that she needs to get away from both him and her work so she trades houses with another woman in L.A. over the holiday season. Even though her introduction portrays her as a lovesick puppy, throughout the movie she learns to love and enjoy life on her own and make meaningful relationships, especially with her love interest, played by Jack Black. Normally we see Jack Black in comedies, but in this film he’s not only funny, but also a sweetheart that Iris is drawn to. Another new friend is Arthur, an elderly man that used to write for Hollywood.

Arthur tells Iris that “in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason, you’re behaving like the best friend.” Iris replies “You’re so right. You’re supposed to be the leading lady of your own life for God’s sake!”

I love that scene and during the pandemic it really stuck with me. I can’t let the pandemic sideline me, I’m the leading lady! I’m sure many of us during this pandemic have felt like the best friend in their own life, rather than the leading lady. It’s hard not being able to see family and friends, while also being stuck inside. But we’ve got to find new ways to enjoy life while we can, because we’re all leading lady material. Let’s start acting like it!

Next up we’ve got Cameron Diaz as Amanda, who breaks up with her cheating-no-good boyfriend and trades houses with Iris, moving to England for Christmas. She’s a workaholic and needs a break, wanting to use her time in England to relax. However, she quickly falls for Graham, played by Jude Law. Instead of it being a one dimensional romance, there are complicated layers that both characters have to maneuver and work through. Amanda’s last relationship made her think she was a robot, bad at love and emotionless. With the help of Graham, she realizes that she’s worthy of being happy not only in her career, but in her personal life as well. Her journey of opening herself up to potential heartbreak, but also true connection, is very inspiring to me.

Maybe you’ve never seen this movie, maybe you have and it didn’t make an impact on you, but for International Women’s Day, I’d like to shout out Nancy Meyers for not only this movie, but countless others. She writes and directs her female characters in such a relatable and interesting way that I find myself connecting with them differently every time I watch. What I find in all of the Nancy Meyers movies I’ve seen, that she’s written and directed, is that there is such genuine human connection between the characters. It’s something I can feel in my heart every time. She’s produced, written, and directed many movies over the span of her career, and the pandemic hasn’t stopped her. She wrote a screenplay for a third Father of The Bride, where the characters get together over Zoom for a quick announcement. This short film is free to watch on YouTube, where you are encouraged to donate to World Central Kitchen while you watch. She’s a powerhouse of a figure in Hollywood, and I’m mad it took me this long to admire what she does.

Nancy Meyers has been pushing back against the male-dominated Hollywood for many years, and she’s always been very determined. When she thinks she’s got a good idea, she won’t rest until she’s able to see it on the big screen. For example, Meyers made her big break with Private Benjamin, a comedy about a spoiled young woman who joins the U.S. army. This movie starred Goldie Hawn, and was rejected by many production companies, but Meyers and her partner in crime, Charles Shyer, persevered until finally Warner Brothers signed on to the script. At this time in Hollywood, everyone was convinced that a female-led movie was going to fail, which was why it was so hard to get the movie made. Meyers proved everyone wrong however when the movie became a box office hit, and was even nominated for multiple Academy Awards. Meyers knew from the beginning that Private Benjamin was a hit, and in the end, she was absolutely right.

Photo of Nancy Meyers

Meyers is a powerful person for everyone to admire. Her confidence shines through in her movies and I think that no matter what you do in life, you can be inspired by Meyers’ ambition and drive. Whether you’re an employee asking for a raise, an aspiring writer, or a passionate artist, be like Nancy Meyers: push back, ask questions, and be true to yourself and your creations. Remember to support other women, and lift each other up. Make genuine connections, which have become more important than ever during these hard times, and open yourself up to new possibilities. I’d like to thank not only Nancy Meyers for her incredible work, but all the hardworking women in my life that inspire me every day. Who inspires you?

Written by Emily Brown