Halle Berry gave Olivia Wilde the best advice: “When I was finally comfortable being a bitch, my entire career changed for the better.”
It’s this wisdom from the John Wick actress, Wilde said at the 2020 MAKERS Conference, that helped her avoid trying to be “likable” on the set of her feature film debut Booksmart — and instead get the job done by focusing on being clear and allowing people to feel heard. Taking this approach, Wilde noted, made those working with her “feel that my demands were warranted and fair.”
Where leadership can go wrong, she thinks, and “can seem reckless and unpleasant,” is when people don’t feel heard.
Wilde recognized that chaos is a natural part of the film process considering things move quickly and change constantly. However, the person in charge never has to become a tyrant. “You can be very clear and direct but I think people really appreciate it because they feel those boundaries are in place and they're being kept safe. I think you can always communicate why: why you are asking them to work harder, why you need this thing to be different and to pick those battles.”
For women, conflict is especially challenging because, as Wilde noted, “the fear of being a bitch is a real thing.”
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