Oscar nominee Emily V. Gordon was told by a photographer to 'get sassy' — then the best thing happened

Lauren Tuck
News Editor

Throughout the promotion of The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon’s pivotal role — in not only creating the film but also being the protagonist of the love story — has been overshadowed. Yes, she got an Oscar nomination and won a Golden Globe, but she’s still continuously referred to as Kumail Nanjiani’s wife. And while the screenwriter and family and couples therapist believes that sexism is absolutely at play, she concedes that the treatment is partially because her partner is more well-known. “For me, it’s been working hard to not take it so personally when it happens, but also not letting it go by,” she said during the MAKERS Conference on Tuesday.

And she does this by affronting offenders. For example, at the Oscars luncheon this week, people were coming up to Nanjiani and Gordon to offer their congratulations — but then would direct their comments only to Nanjiani. “And I just kept staring at them until they were like, ‘And you too!’” Gordon explained.

But she also has the support of others. While Gordon was doing a photo shoot with a bunch of other writers where she was the only woman, the photographer directed her to not be afraid to be sassy. “He’s like, ‘Put your hand on your hip, get sassy.’ And I was mad but I was also like, ‘This is so stupid, like really, sassy?!’ And Jordan Peele said, ‘Would you like me to be more hood in the photo?’ And that’s what we need; I can handle this on my own, but it’s so much easier if I have that support.”

Sure, Peele’s jab was helpful, but it pales in comparison to Nanjiani’s recent clapback.

When the Washington Post published an article titled, “Kumail Nanjiani opens up about his wife’s illness, the inspiration for ‘The Big Sick,’” the Silicon Valley star responded by tweeting, “Hey @washingtonpost. Big fan. Love what y’all do. Appreciate you covering this. Could you add my wife’s name to this headline please? She is Emily V Gordon, & not just the inspiration, but one of the writers of The Big Sick.”

The positive outcome of having to deal with this blatant disregard for Gordon has been that the married couple has seen sexism firsthand in a way that they hadn’t before. And now that they’ve confronted it, they’re ready to combat it.

“It’s frustrating for people to think that I wrote all of the emotional stuff in our script and he wrote all of the funny stuff, which is not necessarily the case,” she said. “At the end of the day, we both work hard to just show up and do the work because that’s the most important thing. If I had to go out every day and say, ‘No, no, no, no, I’m also involved, I’m also involved,’ if I had to do that myself it would be very demoralizing, so I’m very grateful that Kumail does have my back.”

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