People 08 August 2018
With more than 15 movies and 20 TV roles under her belt—as well as six upcoming projects—Alexandra Daddario is a woman to watch in entertainment. You may know her as the bride-to-be in the 2018 Netflix comedy When We First Met or as last summer's blue-eyed, beach bombshell sharing the screen with Zac Efron in Baywatch. Daddario got her start in acting when she was young, her New York City roots helping her find her footing in a tricky, competitive industry. “I got into acting because I grew up in NYC and I was about 10 or 11 when I started to take acting lessons," she explains. “I thought it was cool to go to auditions, and then I booked little commercials. It's a very comfortable environment to play and be somebody else for a period of time."
The “somebody else" embodied by Daddario that proves recognizable for many millennials is none other than Annabeth Chase, the feisty, clever daughter of Athena. Daddario notes this as one of the roles she cherishes most, as it launched her career on the big screen. “Percy Jackson was my first big movie, and that's what got me out to LA and meeting a lot of different kinds of people, so that was incredible," she says.
Daddario as Annabeth Chase in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. Photo courtesy of USA Today
One would be remiss if they did not ask an actress about her favorite movie, Daddario's being the wildly popular Lady Bird. Add that to your to-watch list, and be sure to include Can You Keep a Secret?, her next major project.
This upcoming project is an especially exciting one because not only will she be the star, she will also be the Executive Producer. The movie is an adaptation of the 2003 novel by New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella.
Daddario will play Emma Corrigan, a young businesswoman in London who accidentally reveals every one of her secrets to the CEO of her company when she thinks their plane is about to crash. What could go wrong after a little, innocent secret-spilling? A lot, probably, but you'll have to wait and see (or be proactive and pick up a copy of the book to prepare).
Daddario says she's been interested in taking on the production side of things for some time, ready to branch out after focusing on acting for the past 15 or so years. “I'm at a point where I can task myself a project and help get financing for it, and that's a really cool thing," she says. “And to empower other women that way, and to have more power over what goes on because I've been very lucky to have worked with a lot of different kinds of people and I've seen when things go wrong and when things go right, and I am very excited to have more control and help bring the project to life." There's no release date for Daddario's debut production quite yet, but be on the lookout. Hopefully someone involved really can't keep a secret, and will give fans a hint soon.
“I'm all about women who are empowering themselves through their work, their relationships, all kinds of things, and I think this is a great opportunity in time to start producing."
Now a seasoned actress and budding producer, Daddario knows the ropes of show business and offers advice to aspiring entertainers. “You never know where it will take you," she admits. “When I first got into acting I did commercials, but I wanted to be the little girl in Les Mis and wanted to be a Broadway Star, then I ended up on TV. You can't really have expectations. You have to work really hard. Don't get caught up in any of the nonsense of the job and do it if you love it...be easy on yourself, you're going to be entering something where you're going to be rejected, 99 out of 100 times. Don't take anything personally." If her great success is any indication of her advice's merit, it should be heeded.
As a clear theatre-enthusiast, when asked of her personal Broadway favorites, Daddario doesn't hesitate to list off a bunch of the shows that resonate with her most. Les Mis, Robin Williams' Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, and Speed-the-Plow are among the standouts. “I like all different kinds of things," she says. “I love going to theatre." And who knows? Perhaps her childhood dreams of making it to Broadway will still come true; Daddario certainly is keen on the idea of finding herself on one of the coveted NYC stages. “Oh, I would love to!" she says enthusiastically. “Yeah, I would absolutely love to. I think it's such a great training ground. I'd love to be in a musical, but I can't sing. I mean, I can a little bit, but not the way they sing in Les Mis."
Singing aside, it's safe to say Daddario's name could one day be seen on a playbill, her face studding city sidewalks and lighting up Times Square.
“I travel a great deal, that's part of being an actress, you travel constantly, your life gets to be very erratic. I'm always getting dirty, and doing what we do as women, we are always active, and so Kleenex Wet Wipes, you throw them in your purse or you have them with you when you're travelling...it's such a great product to have because it's not harsh, it doesn't dry out your skin...it's just one of these things that I always carry around with me like lip balm or mascara."
Alexandra Daddario uses Kleenex® Wet Wipes when she's running from hot yoga class to meet up with friends and stayed refreshed with them at Governors Ball in New York. Photo courtesy of Michael Simon / StarTraks for Kimberly-Clark
Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.
Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.
That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.
Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.
Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.
Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.
With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.
The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.
Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.
As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.
Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.