Lake Bell on Filmmaking, Push-Up Bras, and Feminism

The writer, director, and star of In a World shares stories from her career. 

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Growing up, Lake Bell always knew she was destined to act, but writing came later. During a stint on a TV series called Miss Match, she found herself sneaking off to the writers' room to share ideas and steal Doritos. Finally, a coworker called her out: "Are you, like, a closet writer?" "Yes!" she whispers breathlessly, playing up the drama of that moment in an interview for Atlantic Video's Advice to a Younger Me series. "I am!"

Fast forward to 2013 and Bell is coasting on a wave of acclaim for her first feature film, In a World. She wrote, directed, and starred in the comedy, which won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance. The film is, "in no particular order, a show-business satire, a family drama, a feminist parable and a sweet romantic comedy," writes New York Times film critic A. O. Scott. "Not that any of these labels can do justice to the originality of Ms. Bell’s creative voice." The story revolves around a female vocal coach with a dream: to become the "omniscient" voice of a movie trailer. "Sprinkled on top there's a little bit of feminist commentary," Bell says.   

While In a World deals specifically with the glass ceiling of the movie voiceover business, Bell is extremely conscious of the need for women in entertainment to support each other. "There's something protective about status and where you've gotten," for successful women, she says, noting that some are reluctant to help next generation. When she meets aspiring filmmakers, she says, "I try to be ... the person who says, 'Yes that's so cool! My, god, how's it going?'" 

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Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.
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