“Happy International Women’s Day!” I walk into the interview room and greet Octavia Spencer, who’s wearing a polka-dot skirt that I’m about to find out is as joyful as her demeanour.
“Oh yes, that’s today! Great! Yes! Yes,” she replies, oozing an enthusiasm that is undeniably infectious.
The Oscar-winning actress plays the head of the Amity faction in Veronica Roth’s incredibly successful Divergent series. She’s one of the new characters introduced in Insurgent, which is the reason for my trip to LA this past weekend. Along with Naomi Watts, who plays the Factionless leader Evelyn, Octavia joins Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet, who reprise their roles from the box-office-busting first movie.
It may have been a coincidence that my interviews for Insurgent fell on this day, but it was a twist of sweet poetry that it did. Not only did I get to speak to a few of Hollywood’s most inspiring leading ladies who are in the follow-up but I also got to speak to Roth, the 26-year-old author who wrote Divergent during a break in her senior year at university and had sold the publishing rights before she graduated. If you’re wondering if she ever imagined the likes of Kate Winslet playing one of her characters, the answer would be no. Talk about inspiring.
Kate Winslet is one of those names that erases any kind of nonchalance an entertainment reporter may have about interviewing film stars for a living. It’s a name that reminds you underneath that journalist exterior is a fan. My inner fan accidentally came out when I told Kate at the end of our interview that I couldn’t wait to see her in the last installment, Allegiant, but of course – and it’s no spoiler for fans of the book – her character gets killed off in Insurgent. Hide me now.
I’ll be able to share the interviews with Winslet and the rest of the cast, males included, when the movie releases on March 20th. I can, however, share another bit of coincidental sweet poetry. Ellie Goulding, who sang the theme song for Divergent, came out to the launch of Nike’s LA Run Club (something I’ve been taking part in regularly in New York and happened to be in town for). Together with Carmelita Jeter, dubbed the World’s Fastest Woman for her sprinting records, Ellie lead us in the workout she illustrates on the NTC (Nike Training Club) app.
It was an uplifting way to keep the spirit of International Women’s Day going, building on the message being put out by UN Women to step up gender equality and work to renew the promises made in Beijing 20 years ago that have not been fulfilled. Seeing female athletes and artists at the top of their game is further impetus to keep pushing – all of us.
So too, the many pics that came in on Instagram of women – and men – from Sydney and Johannesburg, encouraged by @Voltwomen to share their miles for International Women’s Day. It felt like a ripple of positive energy across social media, one that we can only hope snowballs in real life. In the meantime, I’ve become a fan of all those strong women who run because they can, too.