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Greta Gerwig on a ‘Barbie’ Sequel: ‘If I Find the Undertow, We Get It. If I Don’t, There’s No More’

At the West Hollywood Edition on March 6, where Greta Gerwig was honored as one of Time’s Women of the Year, the record-breaking director spoke to her artistic process and the possibility of a “Barbie” sequel.

“My North Star is ‘What do I deeply love? What do I really care about? Like, ‘What’s the story underneath this story?'” she said. “And I think with ‘Barbie,’ the story underneath this story was I loved Barbie. I remember going to Toys R Us and looking at Barbies and I loved their hair. And I loved everything about them and my mom was not sure about it. And I find that’s the story, that’s the generational story…I’m always trying to find those undertows.”

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Whether or not she will continue to explore the world of Mattel is dependent on her discovering another fascinating tension like that. When asked about a sequel she said, “If I find the undertow, then we get it. If I don’t find an undertow, there’s no more.”

Though she couldn’t offer a definite answer, she added, “It’s something that I loved making so much. And I loved the world that we built so much and all of the actors and the idea of getting to be with that group of people again is very exciting.”

In trying to ascertain what defines a Gerwig film, the writer-director doesn’t limit herself: “The great thrill that I get is kind of figuring out how to build my wings on the way down. Just kind of leaping from the tallest thing I can find…I hope to make all different kinds of movies in my career, big and small. But I think they always have to have that element of adventure because it’s the way I get my kicks.”

Fellow honorees hailing from the entertainment industry were Taraji P. Henson and Andra Day. On the carpet, Day spoke to Variety about the women who inspire her, including her mother, who she describes as her “hero.” She also discussed importance of funding women-led music projects and shared an update about Titus Kaphar’s film “Exhibiting Forgiveness,” in which she co-stars, being picked up for distribution.

She said, “Maybe like a week ago, I actually spoke with the producers. So they said they’re working out a deal right now. I’m so excited for this film. For this cast and the director Titus — he is truly a genius and a visionary.”

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 05: (L-R) Andra Day and Taraji P. Henson attend TIME Women of the Year 2024 at The West Hollywood EDITION on March 05, 2024 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for TIME)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 05: (L-R) Andra Day and Taraji P. Henson attend TIME Women of the Year 2024 at The West Hollywood EDITION on March 05, 2024 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for TIME)

Will.i.am also spoke to Variety about the state of gender equality in the music industry: “Women need to be acknowledged and appreciated…Music does a really horrible job celebrating women — the songs aren’t the best at acknowledging the power, the beauty. It smears and distorts — just disregards women.”

Meanwhile, in the athletic world, honoree Coco Gauff told Variety she wants younger female tennis players to know their potential is boundless. “Just go as far as you want to, you know, people will try to put you in a box. But you know, you can shape that box however you want to — make it a star, make it whatever you want to because at the end of the day, what you want to do for yourself is all that matters.”

Distinguished women making a difference in all different fields were honored, including Leena Nair, Yael Admi, Reem Hajajreh, Nadia Murad, Marlena Fejzo, Jacqui Patterson, Ada Limón and Claudia Goldin.

Highlights of the event included Limón reading her space-bound poem “In Praise of Mystery: A Poem for Europa,” and Day’s performances of her songs “Probably” and “Rise Up,” which brought the audience to their feet with enamored applause.

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