Keri Russell's been asked about her hair for 16 years. Now she's putting her foot down.
It wasn't THAT big a deal, people.
If you're not already watching FX's "The Americans," you might want to get on that because everything about it is incredible, especially Keri Russell.
After four seasons of revelatory work, Russell is finally being recognized at the Emmys with a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. This year, the show also received four other significant nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Lead Actor for Russell's co-star (and real-life partner) Matthew Rhys.
Though the couple isn't known for doing much publicity, with all the hype around the show, they recently agreed to sit down for an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, which took ... an interesting turn.
While most of the interview was about the brilliance of the show and their work on it, the interviewer couldn't help asking about Russell's "infamous" short haircut from back in her "Felicity" days.
It was a weird thing to bring up — first, because it happened almost two decades ago, and, second, because Lacey Rose, the reporter, brought it up in a way that made it seem like she wasn't bringing it up, even though she totally was:
"I'm sure you're horrified that we're still talking about the uproar caused by Felicity's decision to cut off her hair, but you've said you don't think it would have been nearly as big a deal if it were to happen today."
For anyone who isn't familiar with one of the biggest "scandals" in television history, this is what the offending hair cut looked like:
As Decider reports:
"The story went that Keri Russell sent the producers a photo of her wearing a short wig as a prank, but after the initial freakout, the producers thought it might be a fun idea for the character. Russell herself talked about how that signature mane of curly hair had become her public identity, so no doubt there was probably an impulse to rebel against that image."
When the pixie cut was revealed in the second episode of the show's second season, there was an immediate uproar. How could Russell destroy the thing that made "Felicity" Felicity? What right did she have to do what she wanted with her own body?
The "risky move" negatively affected the show's ratings to the point the WB Entertainment president at the time, Susanne Daniels, jokingly said, "Nobody is cutting their hair again on our network and our staff."
While the producers might've been glib about the whole thing, the show's viewers certainly were not.
They were furious.
Over a haircut.
So, when the haircut came up in that recent Hollywood Reporter interview, Russell pointed out why it's ridiculous that she's still being asked about it today, while also gently calling out Rose for doing exactly that:
"Just because it's not kosher to talk that much shit about some girl's hair anymore. Like, Hillary might be president. You gotta be cool with that shit. Tone it down. And I hope that someone would call someone out on that if it happened now."
Because Keri Russell is a class act.
There seems to be a push-pull when it comes to the conversation about women's bodily autonomy and representation in Hollywood right now.
On one hand, there are movements like #AskHerMore where the industry seems fervently invested in doing away with sexist, image-based comments on the red carpet. We have female Ghostbusters. Actresses like Rose Byrne and Jessica Chastain have started women-run film production companies.
But on the other hand, there are people who feel it's totally OK to write a review of Renee Zellweger's latest movie with the absurd headline: "Renee Zellweger: If She No Longer Looks Like Herself, Has She Become a Different Actress?" (The answer, of course, is NO. She's the same actress, just 20 years older and with maybe a little work done. She looks different, in part, because aging and the linear progression of time are universal constants that no human being can escape form nor should they be shamed for.)
The good news is more and more powerhouse women like Keri Russell are refusing to let sexist criticisms go unchecked.
The more women and men who come forward to declare how absurd such scrutiny is (especially when it often applies only to women), the sooner Hollywood will become a place where actresses feel safe to show their true faces.