Idina Menzel admits she sometimes feels ‘really insecure’ ahead of Sunday’s Oscars performance
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Idina Menzel let them in, let them see the insecure girl she can sometimes be.
The actress/singer who will perform “Into the Unknown” from “Frozen II” at Sunday’s Academy Awards, co-hosted the annual Women in Film female Oscar nominees party Friday evening at Sunset Room Hollywood. She told the audience that there are times when she doesn’t always feel her best.
“People think because I sing these songs, and I have this really big voice, and all these songs are about empowering little girls and being a role model… it’s kind of hard to do that every day of your life, when you kind of feel like (expletive) sometimes,” she said. “So, it’s really nice to be able to be inspired and embody a lot of you and what you do.”
Menzel paused when she assessed from the noise in the room that “nobody’s listening.”
Resuming her speech, she said, “Whenever I’m feeling really insecure – like, perhaps, let’s say this Sunday when I’m singing at the Oscars… I usually, when I was in ‘Wicked’ actually, I was having a real insecure moment about finding my voice for real, my inside voice. I told myself one night, ‘Tonight, you’re gonna be (expletive) Glenn Close, as Elphaba.’
“I couldn’t be myself and find my own power, but I decided I’d be Glenn Close, and I found so many amazing things,” she continued. “I held for laughs. I held for the applause. I took a longer bow. I held my shoulders back.”
Menzel also thinks of Kathy Bates, a nominee in this year’s supporting actress category, and her role in the 1998 film “Primary Colors.”
“Whenever I want to go in a room and kick (expletive), I always think about her character, and how she was so authentic and true to herself,” said Menzel, “and for all of us, we have all of these wonderful women in our lives that set an example. There’s nothing more powerful than sisterhood, and we all to have to keep really supporting each other.”
The “Glee” alum also made a call for more diversity.
“We need more women of color, we need more women in the directors categories, and we have to be kind and loving to each other and keep going after all of those incredible poetic, fierce stories that we need to tell and that need to be heard,” she said.
The evening delivered a powerful moment when the female nominees who were present assembled on the stage. Despite a lack of women recognized compared to men, the assembled ladies created a strong image.
Making a joke about receiving her 11th nomination this year, without having won (yet), songwriter Diane Warren introduced herself as Susan Lucci, who famously racked up multiple Daytime Emmy nods before her 1999 victory.
On the red carpet, Warren, nominated for original song for “I’m Standing with You” from the movie “Breakthrough,” said she had not talked to Lucci about their similarity.
“I probably should,” she said. “I think I’m kind of (the Susan Lucci) in what I do.”
It’s Warren’s hope that one day gender qualifiers won’t have to be used.
“It should get to the point where it’s not a female director or a female this or female that. They don’t say male this or male that,” she said. “Someone will say about me, like, ‘Oh, she’s the most nominated female songwriter.’ Well, I don’t know a lot of male songwriters that have been nominated 11 times. Why do you have to put me in a box?”
Chelsea Winstanley, a producer for best picture nominee “Jojo Rabbit,” feels it’s up to women to be the catalyst. Her new company, This Too Shall Pass, aims to support women and people of color.
“We can’t just expect men to maybe like, ‘Oh, can you please give us a turn now?'” she said. “Reality is they’re just not going to, because we’re all fighting for the same position anyway. So, I think women just have to support one another, keep pushing forward, and that’s probably the only way we’re going to see change, is if we make change ourselves.”
Logan Browning, of the TV series “Dear White People,” says she uses the leverage she’s acquired in her career to help employ female directors.
“For someone like me, I’m kind of in this in-between stage in my career where yes I can pass on certain roles,” the 30-year-old said. “But I’m also still fighting to implement my place in this industry, and so sometimes I don’t think I have that luxury. But at the end of the day, it does matter to me, and so I will try to fight and push for that as much as I can.”
Songwriter Kristen Anderson-Lopez, nominated for “Into the Unknown,” is also making waves.
“I feel a real responsibility to be vocal about how few of us there are from the creatives,” she said. “There are places where there are glass ceilings, and there are places where there are cement ceilings, and I think there are a few categories that we really have to work as an organization to say, ‘This is cement, and it has to change.'”