Leslye Headland is a force to be reckoned with in the film industry. She co-created the hit Netflix series “Russian Doll” alongside Amy Poehler and Natasha Lyonne, which recently received 13 Emmy Nominations at the 2019 awards show, and has worked with major stars like Kevin Hart, Jason Sudeikis and Rebel Wilson.
As her career spans over a decade, Headland looked back to the worst advice she has received along the way.
“I did get a lot of feedback when I was younger that I should be quieter and smaller and a little bit more well-behaved and I'm kind of glad that I didn't end up taking that advice,” Headland told ABC News’ Rebecca Jarvis.
Headland wears many hats in the film industry, working as a director, screenwriter and playwright. She graduated from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and went on to work at Miramax as an assistant for six years, one of those year’s spent as an assistant to Harvey Weinstein, whose alleged treatment of women helped spark the #MeToo movement, before deciding to bet on herself and pursue a career in writing and directing.
“All the little microaggressions that I've experienced in being a female writer and director, like you shouldn't take up so much space or you shouldn't be so loud, it just made me feel very alone in the way that I naturally behaved and now, as I've gotten older and I have more experience, I realize like, oh, no one's actually paying that much attention to me.”
Headland has been a major advocate for women in the film industry, working in an all-female writers rooms for “Russian Doll” and mentoring young women who work with her, drawing from her past experiences and learning how to let go of harsh criticism.
“In my 20s, I would very much take it personally and really take it to heart and think, oh, there's something wrong with the way that I am naturally, and now that I'm in my late 30s, almost hitting 40, I'm like, oh, I don't have time,” Headland said regarding others’ opinions of her. “I just don't have time to restructure who I am. I am what my identity is and I worked really hard to get here so I don't really need to ever tear myself down to build myself back up again.”
While Headland tries to not let the opinions of others change who she is as a person, she does realize the importance of feedback.
“I do think that criticism and feedback usually are helpful things to hear, even if you disagree with them, even if you feel like people are off base it is helpful to hear that some people are having a different experience than you intended or what you thought you were doing and in art that always happens, like always your intention and the end result are separated and different.”
As Headland continues to break down barriers in an industry that is mostly dominated by men, she had some advice for her 20-year old self.
“To 20-year-old Leslye I'd say calm down. You have plenty of time. When people try to edit who you are, just decide whether or not that's something you agree with before you start implementing it and really ask yourself, do I agree with that statement?"
Hear more from Leslye Headland on episode #128 of the "No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis" podcast.