Women in Film: Interview with Elizabeth Debicki
Australian stage and film actress Elizabeth Debicki has quickly gained attention the
world over and for the right reasons. Having first made her mark in 2013 when she appeared in Baz Luhrmann’s critically-acclaimed film adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan, the inspiring actress has since starred in many productions and films. It comes as no surprise that Max Mara has presented her with an award befitting of the talented actress, adding on to her list of growing list of recognition and achievements.
First of all, congratulations: in June, at the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy
Awards you will be presented with the Women In Film Max Mara Face of the
Future Award®. How did you feel when you were told?
Thank you. I felt grateful, I was both surprised and honoured. I wasn’t expecting to
receive it, so let’s say it was a pleasant surprise.
Did you follow the previous editions?
Sure, I follow everything the Women In Film organisation does. I believe what they do
is hugely important: their support for women in the film industry is both genuine and
Why do you think Max Mara chose you?
You’d have to ask them (laughs)! I like to think it’s because my philosophy runs along
the same lines as the brand. I’m a big fan of theirs, I always have been. When I went
for a fitting for their photo shoot, I happened to be wearing a Max Mara coat. It’s one
of my favourite items of clothing. I can still remember the day I bought it: I was
performing in some theatre in London at the time and one day I was out with my
sister, and we walked into the Max Mara store together. I’d never bought anything of
theirs before, and it was an important moment for me. If I were to describe it, it would
be akin to taking an active step in designing the woman I wanted to be in the world.
Max Mara is timeless elegance, and I always find it so empowering to wear their
designs because they make you feel like the best version of yourself.
Do you perceive this award as an encouragement?
Very much so. I have the utmost respect for all the women who have won it before
me. They’re all unique in their own way, and each one has succeeded in carving out
their own particular path in the film industry. So it’s a great honour for me to join the
What’s your opinion on the position of women in the film industry today?
It is undoubtedly changing for the better. The amount of women in positions of power
in our industry is growing all the time, and this is because many of these positions
traditionally held by their male counterparts are being made accessible to them when
very recently they were not. The significant change I feel on a daily basis operating in
my industry post time’s up and #metoo, is the readiness and authenticity with which
women are sharing their experiences with each other and the openness of the
dialogue regarding what it is we want to make and how we want to achieve this. We
are using our voices with clarity and honesty in this new space that is opening in front
of us and intuitively it is happening predominately through collaboration. Together we
are empowering each other to be bold and stake a claim in this business. It gives me
so much hopeful energy with which to push forward and explore this new territory of
what it means to put the female experience on screen, from the eyes and minds and
hearts of the women creating the content.
Have you always dreamed of becoming an actress?
I did my first drama course at high school. My teacher was excellent and very
encouraging, but at the time I didn’t think I’d become an actress. After high school, my
intention was to go to university to study, perhaps an arts degree, which would have
been at the time probably a slight relief for my parents, being freelance artists
themselves for much of their lives. But I think that deep down there was a degree of
inevitability about it – I was always strongly drawn to the arts. I finished high school at
17, and I auditioned for the VCA, a drama school in my then-hometown, Melbourne.
That was the first time I delivered a monologue. I truly didn’t know what I was doing so
it was like a shot in the dark. When I got accepted into the course I was deeply
surprised but I thought: someone must have seen something in me, and I surrendered
to it. I loved my university course, it was the first time I felt surrounded by like-minded
people and it really nurtured our evolution as young artists