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Check Out Our Exclusive Portrait Gallery From The Toronto International Film Festival

Culture
Photo by Sophie Elgort

In partnership with NKPR IT House x Scott Brothers Producers Ball

Since last Thursday, Toronto has become a playground to the stars, as the Toronto International Film Festival once again staged its annual takeover of Canada's largest city. For the second year in a row, NKPR, in collaboration with The Scott Brothers Producers Ball and in partnership with Paul Haggis' Artists for Peace and Justice (a donation was made to the foundation for each celeb that visited), set up IT House, an experiential destination in the heart of the city, where talent could take a breather from their hectic schedules. While there, they were also able to stop by NYLON's pop-up photo studio, where photographer Sophie Elgort snapped their portraits before they headed off to their next destination. Check them, and snippets of our interviews with them, out in the exclusive gallery, below.

Amy Seimetz, creator of The Girlfriend Experience
On the freedom she has making the The Girlfriend Experience: “The beauty of what we’re doing is it doesn’t have to be anything. You just have to take the title and fuck it up.”

Photo by Sophie Elgort

Rebecca Dayan, one of the stars of Novitiate
On the biggest challenge of shooting Novitiate: "The character of Sister Emanuel was written in a way that made her very clear, so there was no trouble understanding her. Perhaps the main challenge was to feel the relationship, the love, that drives her to put herself through hell and back for it. I could understand it intellectually but it wasn't until i could experience it on a deeper emotional and spiritual level that I felt I could really do her justice."

Brett Morgen, director of Jane
On movie premieres: "Premieres are very very hard for me. I'm very much like Kurt Cobain in that way. I just can't handle the ridicule."

Photo by Sophie Elgort

Charlotte Vega, star of The Lodgers

Photo by Sophie Elgort

Coralie Fargeat, director of Revenge

Photo by Sophie Elgort

Director X, director of videos for Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Drake
On the success of "Hotline Bling": “Everyone wants to go viral. Personally, I’m superstitious. The moment you say you want to, you’re now guaranteed no viral-ness. With that video, we just did our best, and just like all other art, you hope people like it. When we were making it, I thought we had a hit within the hip-hop world. And then we put it out, and it just went nuts. It’s now a calling card that I have that can be pulled in any room.”

Photo by Sophie Elgort

Eli Harboe, one of the stars of Thelma
On Norwegian cinema: "We’re getting more bigger-budget movies and more artistic films as well. I hope we find a way to keep the raw, Scandinavian aesthetic alive while telling great stories. The style is very brooding, a sense of coldness and darkness, the weather is very present."

Photo by Sophie Elgort

Ellen Wong, one of the stars of GLOW 
On one of her worst audition experiences: "I have a fear of things being stuck in my teeth. I always do a tooth check, because before one audition I was starving, and I had a thing of spaghetti in some Tupperware, so I scarfed it down. So they call my name, I do the whole audition, and after that, I go to the washroom, look in the mirror, and there’s basil in my teeth. It looked like I had a missing tooth."

Photo by Sophie Elgort

Jason Clarke, one of the stars of Chappaquiddick

Photo by Sophie Elgort

Jay Duplass, one of the stars and co-writer of Outside In
On playing an ex-con: "It’s really different from anything I’ve ever done before. I met a lot of guys who had been in jail for 20 years or so. The one thing that I learned is that, that 20-year period, from the ‘90s to now, is maybe the most extreme time warp that has ever existed."


Photo by Sophie Elgort

Joe Cole, one of the stars of Eye on Juliet

Photo by Sophie Elgort

Ben Schwartz, one of the stars of Outside In
On taking on a dramatic role: "I love doing it because it’s me trying to stretch out and learn stuff. When I was on House of Lies watching Don Cheadle, it was amazing. It’s always about the person you’re next to. So if you're in a scene with Jay [Duplass], and you get to just react, then you’re just in heaven."

Photo by Sophie Elgort

Kaya Wilkins, one of the stars of Thelma
On filming the lesbian love scenes in Thelma: "It was a very respectful, closed set for the most intimate scenes. We had fun, relaxed vibes. We made the sound guy play “Kiss From A Rose” like a thousand times. I think Joachim [Trier, director of Thelma] was annoyed, but we loved it. Thank you, Seal!"

Photo by Sophie Elgort

Kerr Logan, one of the stars of Alias Grace

Photo by Sophie Elgort

Louisa Krause, one of the stars of The Girlfriend Experience
On The Girlfriend Experience: “Getting this role is like winning the lottery. It’s the best coming out in the television world that I could ask for. I’ve been surviving as a New York City actress for 12 years, and I completely get off on transforming."

Photo by Sophie Elgort

Lynn Shelton, director of Outside In
On having the idea to write a story about an ex-con falling for his former teacher: "I really wanted to work with Jay [Duplass] after seeing him act. In general, I’m interested in relationships that, on paper, don’t look like they should work out, or look inappropriate, or improbable, so this popped into my head. I like the idea of there being a physical barrier between two people, so they had to get to know each other over a long period of time but couldn’t be together."

Photo by Sophie Elgort

Sara Driver, director of Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat
On Jean-Michel Basquiat: "He’s been so mythologized, and my film really humanizes him. He was a teenager, ran away from home, and was sleeping on all of our sofas, and it’s a film that shows how he became the artist he became. Jean-Michel was like a sponge. He absorbed science and art and music and jazz and industrial music. He was a great poet as well as a great painter, and I think a lot of people don’t realize that."


Photo by Sophie Elgort

Simon Baker, director of Breath
On making a movie about young surfers, based on a popular book: "I could have made a movie set in a different physical landscape, it could have been kids playing chess. But it happened to be the ocean, which is very cinematic. I have a special connection to it. And that book just happened to land in my lap, and as soon as I read it, I felt a compulsion—if someone’s going to make this as a film, I can’t let them, because they’re going to fuck it up."


Photo by Sophie Elgort

Mamoudou Athie, star of Brie Larson's directorial debut Unicorn Store
On his most nightmarish audition: "The thing about this audition that was different was they let you choose whatever you wanted to prepare and whichever character. You needed one movement piece with two of the seven deadly sins as inspiration, and I was like, Gluttony and Lust, duh. I get there and there are all these people behind the table that I respect, and I realize I am woefully underprepared. Sometimes you just gotta figure it out. I start combining the elements of gluttony and lust into this Gollum-like creature. I’m snarling, trying to eat air, and then I vacillate to this sexy lady. They’re looking at me, and I’m looking at them, and I just said 'scene.'”

Photo by Sophie Elgort

Cuba Gooding Jr.

Matilda Lutz, star of Revenge

NKPR president Natasha Koifman and the Scott brothers

Kaitlyn Dever, one of the stars of Outside In
On the director behind Outside In: "Working with Lynn [Shelton], you don’t have to think too much. It’s all there in the script, and it’s very easy to get to an emotional place."

Photo by Sophie Elgort

Nail polish is for novices

Fashion label The Blonds is known for its high-intensity looks that you'd only wear if you wanted to stand out (and who doesn't?). For its runway shows, wild press-on nails are the beauty step that can't be missed. So, since the brand has partnered with CND since it was founded, we thought it best to get prepped for the show with Jan Arnold, CND's co-founder.

See why you should take your nail look from a zero to a 10, in the video above.

Credits:
Shot by Charlotte Prager
Edited by Gretta Wilson
Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Production Assistant: Polina Buchak
Featuring Jan Arnold of CND Nails and The Blonds

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

It would've been nice if someone said the word "fat"

Back in November, Rebel Wilson claimed to be the first plus-sized lead in a romantic comedy when she appeared on Ellen to talk about her role in Isn't It Romantic. Wilson was not only wrong, but she was—even if inadvertently—erasing the work of Black plus-size actresses like Queen Latifah and Mo'Nique, both of whom have expansive resumes that include romantic comedies.

Wilson's comment isn't the first example of white women taking up a little too much space in the fat acceptance ethos. It's actually quite common. But there is a reason why women like Wilson—women who are blonde, pretty, successful, and white—get put front and center in calls for body positivity. In the same way that feminism—the movement from which body positivity was born—has often failed to address how gender intersects with other identities like race and class; so, too, has body positivity been championed as a cause for otherwise privileged women. And that's why it's no surprise that Isn't It Romantic, which aspires to be both a spot-on mockery of rom-coms and a celebration of body positivity, is actually a perfect example of how very white both the movie genre and the body positivity movement tend to be.

In the film, Wilson plays Natalie, an architect based in New York, who is single and plus-sized—the archetypal rom-com underdog. Very early on in the movie, she endures the double humiliation of both being hit by a runaway food cart and then accosted by its owner for not stopping it with her "cement truck"-like body. At work, Natalie is similarly disrespected: The office manager hands off troubleshooting tasks to Natalie; another colleague always tasks Natalie to throw out his trash; her assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin) won't stop watching movies (rom-coms, naturally) while in the office; and Natalie is so afraid to present her ideas for more innovative parking garage designs that she isn't even widely known in the firm as an architect, and is treated like an intern.

But is Natalie just a doormat? Or is it that she isn't asking for what she wants? And isn't very nice about not getting it? If Natalie's life is any example, the bar on suffering is set pretty low for white women. In her personal life, Natalie lives alone with her dog, and seems to be pretty well-off, financially; her best friend is actually her slacker assistant, Whitney, and she's close with another coworker, Josh (Adam Devine), who gives Natalie constant emotional support. She's decidedly anti-romantic, having been told by her mother from a young age that there's no such thing as real-life fairy tales; she's level-headed and practical. But also, she's filled with self-loathing. This leads her to be crass, sarcastic, and disconnected from people. And it was this last part that was hard for me. As a fat Black woman who grew up broke, does not have an assistant, and would get fired if I didn't do my job well, it was hard, if not impossible, to root for her.

For Natalie, though, everything changes when she bangs her head while fighting off a mugger. Her mundane life is tinted through rosy rom-com glasses. Suddenly, all the things that sucked about her life are gone, and everything is beautiful and perfect. But was her life so bad before? It didn't really seem to be.

And yet, looking around the theater at the mostly white, female audience, I accepted that my feelings didn't seem to be shared. But that almost seems to be by design; this feels like a movie for a white, female audience. There is only one person of color in the movie who even has a name: It's Isabelle (Priyanka Chopra), who shows up about halfway through the film—after everything has been rom-com filtered—as a yoga ambassador and swimsuit model. But a name is all Isabella has. A supporting character at best, she doesn't have any connection to anyone other than her white boyfriend, and is sketchily drawn. We learn nothing of her familial or ethnic background, and, even when she is shown at her wedding, there is nobody from her family celebrating with her. This huge oversight is particularly bizarre, given that Natalie has already bemoaned the lack of diversity in romantic films.

Another huge oversight? The presence of the word "fat." I don't think I heard it used a single time. Natalie only references her weight indirectly, by commenting on the appearance of straight-sized women; when talking about her own body, the word "fat" is replaced with "girl like me." But by ignoring this aspect of herself, and refusing to address it head-on, Natalie is succumbing to the same fatphobia that shapes her world, whether she identifies it as being a problem or not.

Before her life becomes a rom-com, Natalie feels invisible at work and in the world. Some of this is certainly her fault, but fatphobia is also at play. Fatphobia chips away at the humanity of fat people from different angles. It means that Natalie gets used to being dehumanized; she doesn't expect others to have empathy for her when she's physically hurt, because they don't value her body. And it's no coincidence that Natalie's fantasy world includes a magically bigger apartment with unlimited clothing options, because discrimination against fat people isn't just a matter aesthetics and preferences—it affects everything from our ability to dress ourselves to our ability to make and save money, since there's a price to pay for being fat, even if it's just having to pay more to travel. Just as much as gender and race intersect with fat bodies, so, too, do economics and class.

I knew I could count on a plus-sized white comedian to take down a genre of films that prioritized thin women. But I ventured to see if Wilson could go further than that, and challenge what it means to be white and well-off and fat in the process; it isn't just about taking down rom-coms but about doing so in a way that isn't just a mouthpiece for white feminist values. But, in the end, that isn't what happened. Isn't It Romantic is fine, but it needed to do more than target an audience of girls who are 10 to 30 pounds overweight and still too jolted by the word "fat" to ever apply it to themselves, so they go for acceptable alternatives, like curvy, plus-sized—or thicc, if they're hip. But I'm not afraid to say I'm fat, I'm just disappointed I will be waiting even longer to see a realistic reflection of that experience onscreen.

Isn't It Romantic is in theaters now.