BATTLE OF THE SEXES Opens In Theaters This Friday, September 22nd.
Thank you, FOX Searchlight for hosting me, for the Battle of The Sexes Press Junket, Tennis Clinic and Premiere, starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell. It was truly a life-changing experience for me, not only did I learn about Billie Jean King played by Emma Stone, but I’ve fallen in love with the game, so much so that I’ve signed my kiddo and me up for a mommy and me class.
Here’s the thing, I’d like to say the “movie” was great but in reality this isn’t just a "movie," it’s about someone's life, a life that changed the very structure for woman receiving equal pay in sports, a person whose blood, sweat, tears and hard work was the catalyst to a movement. Billie Jean King's life is beyond great, it’s spectacular, she realized she couldn't get around the craziness so she went through it, she challenged it head-on. This “movie” should be the blueprint for every person that wants to make a difference in our world, big or small, stand your ground and let the world know you are here, you will triumph. Know that you’ll have resistance and that’s okay, in truth, it just means you are doing what they can not. Go forth, stand tall and never make your opponent look bad.
I’m going to be truthful, I knew Billie Jean King was a famous 70’s tennis champion and a current activist for LGBT community, but, I had no idea she single-handedly changed the path for woman in tennis. Billie Jean King was a trailblazer in her time and still is. With her forward thinking, humble disposition, gracious attitude, and respect to whom ever she came across makes her, in my eyes, a saint. When people knocked her down, she took the high road and allowed them to save face instead of tearing them down. Her mission, woman earning equal pay, this is a HUGE undertaking when you think about it, especially in the 70’s when woman were seen as objects, called honey and “our place” was barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, “do as we’re told.” Here is a woman who had the wherewithal, the balls (yes, I said that) to challenge men's thoughts and help redefine the perspective of woman. The battles that were off the court were just as strenuous as the ones on the court.
Battle of the Sex Press Junket, Team Billie Jean
Emma Stone, Andrea Riseborough, Alan Cumming, Austin Stowell, Natalie Morales, Jessica McNamee and Billie Jean King
BJK decided to start her own all-female tour which threatened many people in her profession. This wasn’t about BJK having a “temper tantrum,” they couldn’t understand, she was fighting to be seen as an equal, to play the same game fairly, this wasn’t political, she wanted to make this a way of life, for herself and others. Allow that to absorb for a while, a woman in the 1970’s wanted other women in sports to earn the same as the opposite sex. WOW! Fast forward to a few weeks ago at U.S Open when Sloane Stephens won her title and her winnings, a three million dollar check! BJK was there to witness this marvelous achievement, could you imagine knowing, because of you, doors have opened for others and it’s life-changing. I hope in my lifetime I am able to make a difference for not only my child but for one other person, then I know, that I have had a life worthy of living.
Riggs, her opponent played by Steve Carrell, on the other hand, who was comical in his own crass and pathetically obnoxious way, wanted to turn everything into a horse and pony show. Riggs viewed the game as, “how can I make a fast buck,” in and out, get the sponsors and move on. He wanted to show BJK for what he thought she was, a joke and an inferior. Here’s the difference, BJK sole focus was the game while Riggs posed nude for a pin-up style advertisement, swallowing handfuls of pills given to him by a wacky looking nutritionist that he probably found in the yellow pages, or the creme de la cream, was when he’d say he’s a male chauvinist pig and his wife Priscilla played by Elisabeth Shue confronts him and says, “I’m bankrolling your life.” Here’s the thing about Riggs, to me he was empty, sad and broken on the inside. All that craziness was just a deterrent from his underlying feelings of being lonely, not accepting aging gracefully and he just needed more hugs than the average person.
Battle of the Sexes Press Junket, Team Riggs
Steve Carell, Bill Pullman, Elisabeth Shue, Eric Christian Olsen, Valerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton, Sara Bareilles and Nick Britell
I would love to tell you how I viewed each character, however, in truth the article would never end. Each actor in their own right held their own. From Austin Stowell who plays Larry, BJK husband was a kind and gentle soul. He knew what was in BJK heart and never held her back, he was a man of honor, a respectable man that understood what BJK mission was and supported her no matter what the cost. Elisabeth Shue who played Priscilla, Riggs wife, was patient, she understood her husband and stood by him, that’s what love will do, with love you overlook certain things and focus on the good and she saw the good. Alan Cumming who played Ted Tinling watched out for BJK, a true friend. Eric Christian Olsen played Lonnie, Riggs trusted friend and side kick was a true friend. I will leave you with Andrea Riseborough, who’s the carefree bohemian hairdresser, Marilyn Barnett, and BJK love interest. Not only is BJK married but what she feels toward Marilyn is taboo, first off its infidelity and to top it off society’s homophobia in the 70’s was terrifying. BJK and Marylin share intimate moments that draw you in, you feel BJK anguish and torment that is within her. You’ll cheer them on but soon realize that it’s one thing to start a movement, it’s completely another thing to come out in the 70’s.
I’m saying it here and now, just like how I told Emma Stone during the Press Junket, she will win an Oscar for Battle of The Sexes. This is a must see “movie,” you have no idea how it pains me to call it “movie” because it is someone's life story, it is Billy Jean King's life, and I for one am glad it’s been told, this so much more than entertainment, this is what the beauty of life is all about. Finding out your purpose and living your life without regrets, without fear, chase after your dreams. Believe that anything is possible and it is. Thank you, Billie Jean King, for who you are and what you have done and are doing. Most importantly thank you Fox Searchlight for taking on this project and portraying it so beautifully, with truth and love.
In Theaters September 22, 2017
The 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs became the most watched televised sports event of all time. Trapped in the media glare, King and Riggs were on opposites sides of a binary argument, but off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles. With her husband urging her to fight for equal pay, the private King was also struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality, while Riggs gambled his legacy and reputation in a bid to relive the glories of his past.
*The importance of catching Battle of The Sexes opening weekend, Fox Searchlight will donate 79 cents from each ticket sale to BJK Woman's Sports Foundation.
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