When Tuesday morning’s Oscar nominations were announced, “Barbie” star America Ferrera was snuggled in bed alone and watching on her phone as her husband Ryan Piers Williams drove their kids to school.
“There was a moment where I wasn’t sure if I had made it up,” Ferrera tells Variety. “And then my phone started blowing up so I figured that I must have heard it right.”
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The overwhelming emotion surrounding earning her first Academy Award nomination — for playing Gloria, the human lens through which “Barbie” is viewed in the $1.4 billion blockbuster comedy — has been shock. “I still haven’t really been able to get in my feelings because I’m still on like the top layer of ‘I can’t even believe that this is real,'” Ferrera explains.
Her publicist got to her first, and then Williams called. “He was screaming and emotional. And I just heard my kids in the back, like so confused. ‘What are you screaming about?'” Ferrera says, laughing.
She next heard from her “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” co-stars: Blake Lively, Amber Tamblyn and Alexis Bledel.
“They FaceTimed me as a group right away,” Ferrera says. “It was hilarious and funny and emotional and it’s wonderful to be celebrated and held up by my sisters. These women who I’ve had the honor of growing up with in this industry and being loved and cheered on and supported by them. Which we all do for each other. They’re amazing, and such a gift in my life.”
And because the “Barbie” group is flung across the world, they’ve been texting their congratulations to one another.
“It’s an overwhelming amount of love and support and congratulations to me,” she said. “I feel it so deeply and am so grateful for their love and support and in this moment. It’s been a long ‘Barbie’ journey — I mean longer even for Greta and Margot and Noah, it’s been years and years and years — everyone’s really excited that we get to celebrate and to end this journey at the biggest party of the year.”
In addition to Ferrera’s nomination, “Barbie” also collected nods for best picture, supporting actor (Ryan Gosling), adapted screenplay (Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach), costume design, production design, and original songs (“I’m Just Ken” and “What Was I Made For?”). However two notable nominations were missing from that group: Greta Gerwig (best director) and Margot Robbie (best actress).
“I was incredibly disappointed that they weren’t nominated,” Ferrera says.
The nomination would have been Gerwig’s second Oscar nom for directing, following her first bid for 2017’s “Lady Bird,” and she’d been viewed as one of the leading contenders to receive a nomination after landing recognition from the Critics Choice, Golden Globes and Directors Guild of America Awards, considered one of the most critical precursors to the Oscars. This year’s directing nominees are: Justine Triet (“Anatomy of a Fall”), Martin Scorsese (“Killers of the Flower Moon”), Christopher Nolan (“Oppenheimer”), Yorgos Lanthimos (“Poor Things”) and Jonathan Glazer (“The Zone of Interest”).
“Greta has done just about everything that a director could do to deserve it,” Ferrera explains. “Creating this world, and taking something that didn’t have inherent value to most people and making it a global phenomenon. It feels disappointing to not see her on that list.”
As for Robbie — who earned a best picture nomination for producing “Barbie,” but was snubbed for what would’ve been her third acting nod — Ferrera has nothing but praise for her complex performance.
“What Margot achieved as an actress is truly unbelievable,” Ferrera says. “One of the things about Margot as an actress is how easy she makes everything look. And perhaps people got fooled into thinking that the work seems easy, but Margot is a magician as an actress in front of the screen, and it was one of the honors of my career to get to witness her pull off the amazing performance she did. She brings so much heart and humor and depth and joy and fun to the character. In my book, she’s a master.”
On a more encouraging note, “Barbie” did make history as one of three films directed by women to earn a best picture nod.
“It’s as it should be,” Ferrera says. “Women filmmakers telling all different kinds of stories that resonate in different ways in the culture is the goal. I would love to see even even more female-directed movies on the list and to see more female directors acknowledged for making the best cinema of the year.”
And she’s also feeling encouraged by the representation achieved in the acting races, with herself, a Latina, two Black women (Danielle Brooks and Da’Vine Joy Randolph), plus Jodie Foster as a gay woman playing a gay character.
“It feels great to see the range of women that are being acknowledged in the supporting actress category and so excited that Lily Gladstone was in the Best Actress category as well,” Ferrera says. “We should be getting to enjoy the work and performances of all different kinds of artists. Opportunities were created for these artists to do their work. It’s exciting to see that those opportunities did exist in this in this year of film for women of color to get to shine and be a part of the of the best filmmaking of the year.”
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