Erin Darke on Her New Amazon Show, Good Girls Revolt

Getty Images
Getty Images

Pilot season can be a stressful experience for any actor, but for Erin Darke, 2015’s pilot season was particularly depressing. “I was reading these scripts and just being like, ‘Oh my god, what if I have to sign a seven-year contract with this show?” the Kill Your Darlings actress recalls. “It was that feeling of, 'theoretically, I want these jobs, but I don’t actually want any of these jobs.'” Then, two months after pilot season had wrapped, another script landed in her hands: Amazon’s Good Girls Revolt, a show based on Lynn Povich’s book The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace. It was love at first read. “[I was] convinced that I was never going to get it because I loved it too much,” Darke says.

The structure of news magazines in the 1960s was much different than it is today: Male employees were the writers and reporters; they were paired with women, who worked as research assistants and fact checkers, often without getting credit for their work. Povich was one of 46 women working at Newsweek who, in 1970, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that management at the magazine had “systematically discriminated” against its female employees “in both hiring and promotion,” and that the women were “forced to assume a subsidiary role” just because they were female. (In the book, Povich writes that her boss, Harry Waters, explained that when he applied at the magazine, his editor told him, "The best part of the job is that you get to screw the researcher," which, Waters said, “reflected the position of women at the newsmagazines, both literally and figuratively. It reinforced in young women that that’s their position—it’s underneath. That’s as far as they can get.”)

“These women were so highly educated and so intelligent and were actually being used for that intelligence, just not in an equal way,” Darke says. Good Girls Revolt fictionalizes this fight, swapping in News of the Week magazine for Newsweek and featuring female employees in various situations in life fighting for credit and equality.

Darke was called in to audition for Cindy Reston—who, unlike a number of the characters on the show, is a married woman whose life is very neatly planned out. “In some ways, she’s already made all of the decisions to go down that path,” Darke says. “In the pilot, Cindy definitely starts a journey of realizing that this life that she signed herself up for is perhaps not exactly what she wants. For her to change her mind about that and decide she wants something else is not an easy thing.”

Darke loved the idea of being able to play a woman making those tough decisions, and fell in love with the character, who dreams of writing a novel and whose husband has allowed her to work as a caption writer at News of the Week for a couple of years before they start a family. Then, after her initial audition for Cindy, Darke was called back in to read for Jane, one of the magazine’s unmarried research assistants. “When they brought me back in for Jane, I was a little bit like, ‘Well, I still really love the show, and I’m still super excited about it,’” Darke says. But when Pitch Perfect actress Anna Camp was ultimately cast as Jane, Darke landed the role of Cindy—and she was overjoyed.

“I was so happy because I had fallen in love with the character of Cindy,” Darke says. “She’s so different from me, but I think maybe in her I can see this alternate universe version of me where, if I had been raised in a different time by different people, that could be the person I ended up being. Imagine growing up without ever having anyone tell you that you can pursue your dream, and then, as an adult, making that discovery on your own and trying to deal with that. I have so much compassion and love for her in that journey that she’s on because it’s a journey that I didn't have to go on.”

Good Girls Revolt filmed its pilot episode in New York City in August 2015. If the pilot had been filmed for network TV, executives would have decided whether or not to pick it up, but Amazon’s system works differently. In November, the company released Revolt online along with a few other pilots, and asked its users to rate, vote, and comment on the show. That feedback factors into the company’s decision about whether or not to order a pilot to series.

“It was a crazy thing to have the pilot out there, knowing that your future and the future of the show depends on people watching it and liking it,” Darke says. “But there was also something great about it, because most network pilots that don’t get picked up disappear. I shot a pilot a few years ago with David Schwimmer that I loved, and it didn't get picked up. I’ve never seen it. I don’t know anyone who actually ever got to see it. It just disappeared into the ether. This thing that you put all this work into—if it doesn't get picked up, it’s gone. So there was something actually really lovely about the Amazon system and knowing that even if our show didn't get picked up, the pilot would still be out there, and this thing that we had worked so hard on would at least get to be seen.” Revolt’s pilot currently has a rating of 4.6 stars out of five, and the full season—which was shot in Los Angeles—will be available on October 28.

After she booked the show and before filming the pilot, Darke did her research. She read Povich’s book and watched CNN’s series The Sixties and The Seventies. But she still found that there were gaps in her knowledge of that time period, which often spurred other research during filming—especially when the show’s fictional magazine covered real-life events. The pilot, for example, opens with the murder of Meredith Hunter during the Rolling Stones’s set at the Altamont Free Concert in 1969, and other episodes deal with aspects of Vietnam and the Black Panther movement.

“One time we talked about the Tet Offensive ... I realized that I actually didn't know that much about it,” she says. “I think in general, this time period has been one of those things for me. I just had this moment of realizing, holy s***, the things that were happening in this country at the time—I have this broad surface knowledge of them, but did not know the details. There are a few episodes that deal with the Black Panthers. I obviously, theoretically, knew who they were, but I’ve been very interested in them since then because I think there’s a correlation between that and Black Lives Matter today.”

And although it's a period show, certain aspects of Good Girls Revolt will feel familiar, particularly to its female viewers. Women still make less than men in the same jobs, are less likely to be given raises even when they ask for them, and account for less than 5 percent of the CEOs at S&P 500 companies. “I keep telling people that I find the show horrifyingly relevant,” Darke says. “I definitely came out of shooting Good Girls Revolt with a renewed sense of the need to fight for feminism. It was both a reminder for me of how far we’ve come, but also that it’s not done.”

Good Girls Revolt hits Amazon on October 28, 2016.

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Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

15 Fascinating Facts About Julia Child

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images

Julia Child was much more than just a bestselling cookbook author and chef. Over the course of her life, she was also a breast cancer survivor, a TV trailblazer, and a government spy. It's the famed chef's spy game that will be the focus of Julia, a new series being developed by ABC Signature and created by Benjamin Brand.

The project will draw its inspiration from Child's PBS program Cooking for the C.I.A. “I was disappointed when I learned that in this case, the C.I.A. stood for the Culinary Institute of America,” Brand told Deadline. “Cooking Secrets of the Central Intelligence Agency always seemed like a more interesting show to me. Many years later, when I read a biography of Julia Child and learned about her experiences during World War II, working for the Office of Strategic Services—the precursor to the C.I.A.—the story of Julia quickly fell into place.”

Though Julia will be a work of fiction, here are 15 facts about the beloved cook, who was born on August 15, 1912.

1. Julia Child met the inventor of the Caesar salad when she was a kid.

As a preteen, Julia Child traveled to Tijuana on a family vacation. Her parents took her to dine at Caesar Cardini’s restaurant, so that they could all try his trendy “Caesar salad.” Child recalled the formative culinary experience to The New York Times: “My parents were so excited, eating this famous salad that was suddenly very chic. Caesar himself was a great big old fellow who stood right in front of us to make it. I remember the turning of the salad in the bowl was very dramatic. And egg in a salad was unheard of at that point.” Years later, when she was a famous chef in her own right, Child convinced Cardini’s daughter, Rosa, to share the authentic recipe with her.

2. The WAVES and WACs rejected Julia Child for being too tall.

Like so many others of her generation, Child felt the call to serve when America entered World War II. There was just one problem: her height. At a towering 6'2", Child was deemed “too tall” for both the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) and Women’s Army Corps (WAC). But she was accepted by the forerunner to the CIA, which brings us to our next point.

3. Julia Child was a spy during World War II.

Child took a position at the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which was basically the CIA 1.0. She began as a research assistant in the Secret Intelligence division, where she worked directly for the head of the OSS, General William J. Donovan. But she moved over to the OSS Emergency Sea Rescue Equipment Section, and then took an overseas post for the final two years of the war. First in Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) and later in Kunming, China, Child served as the chief of the OSS Registry. This meant she had top-level security clearance. It also meant she was working with Paul Child, the OSS officer she would eventually marry.

4. Julia Child helped develop a shark repellent for the Navy.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

While Child was in the Emergency Sea Rescue Equipment Section, she helped the team in its search for a suitable shark repellent. Several U.S. naval officers had been attacked by the ocean predators since the war broke out, so the OSS brought in a scientist specializing in zoology and an anthropologist to come up with a fix. Child assisted in this mission, and recalled her experience in the book Sisterhood of Spies: “I must say we had lots of fun. We designed rescue kits and other agent paraphernalia. I understand the shark repellent we developed is being used today for downed space equipment—strapped around it so the sharks won’t attack when it lands in the ocean.”

5. Julia Child got married in bandages.

Once the war ended, Julia and Paul Child decided to take a “few months to get to know each other in civilian clothes.” They met with family members and traveled cross-country before they decided to tie the knot. The wedding took place on September 1, 1946. Julia remembered being “extremely happy, but a bit banged up from a car accident the day before.” She wasn’t kidding; she actually had to wear a bandage on the side of her face for her wedding photos. The New York Review of Books has one of those pictures.

6. Julia Child was a terrible cook well into her 30s.

Child did not have a natural talent for cooking. In fact, she was a self-admitted disaster in the kitchen until she began taking classes at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where she and Paul lived for several years. Prior to her marriage, Child simply fed herself frozen dinners. It was probably the safest choice; one of her earliest attempts at cooking resulted in an exploded duck and an oven fire.

7. A lunch in Rouen changed Julia Child's life.

Child repeatedly credited one meal with spurring her interest in fine foods: a lunch in the French city of Rouen that she and Paul enjoyed en route to their new home in Paris. The meal consisted of oysters portugaises on the half-shell, sole meunière browned in Normandy butter, a salad with baguettes, and cheese and coffee for dessert. They also “happily downed a whole bottle of Pouilly-Fumé” over the courses.

8. It took Julia Child nine years to write and publish her first cookbook.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking revolutionized home cooking when it was published in 1961—but the revolution didn't happen overnight. Child first began work on her famous tome in 1952, when she met Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. The French women were writing a cookbook aimed at teaching Americans how to make French cuisine, and brought Child on board as a third author. Nine years of research, rewrites, and rejections ensued before the book landed a publisher at Alfred A. Knopf.

9. Julia Child got famous by beating eggs on Boston public television.

Child’s big TV break came from an unlikely source: Boston’s local WGBH station. While promoting Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Child appeared as a guest on the book review program I’ve Been Reading. But rather than sit down and discuss recipe semantics, Child started cracking eggs into a hot plate she brought with her. She made an omelette on air as she answered questions, and viewers loved it. The station received dozens of letters begging for more demonstrations, which led WGBH producer Russell Morash to offer Child a deal. She filmed three pilot episodes, which turned into her star-making show The French Chef.

10. All of Julia Child's essential utensils were kept in a "sacred bag."

According to a 1974 New Yorker profile, Child carried a large black canvas satchel known as the “sacred bag.” Rather than holy artifacts, it contained the cooking utensils she couldn’t live without. That included her pastry-cutting wheel, her favorite flour scoop, and her knives, among other things. She started using it when The French Chef premiered, and only entrusted certain people with its care.

11. Julia Child survived breast cancer.

Child’s doctors ordered a mastectomy in the late 1960s after a routine biopsy came back with cancerous results. She was in a depressed mood following her 10-day hospital stay, and Paul was a wreck. But she later became vocal about her operation in hopes that it would remove the stigma for other women. She told TIME, “I would certainly not pussyfoot around having a radical [mastectomy] because it’s not worth it.”

12. Julia Child's marriage was well ahead of its time.

As their meet-cute in the OSS offices would suggest, Paul and Julia Child had far from a conventional marriage (at least by 1950s standards). Once Julia’s career took off, Paul happily assisted in whatever way he could—as a taste tester, dishwasher, agent, or manager. He had retired from the Foreign Service in 1960, and immediately thrust himself into an active role in Julia’s business. The New Yorker took note of Paul’s progressive attitudes in its 1974 profile of Julia, noting that he suffered “from no apparent insecurities of male ego.” He continued to serve as Julia’s partner in every sense of the word until his death in 1994.

13. Julia Child was the first woman inducted into the Culinary Institute of America's Hall of Fame.

Child spent her early years working for what would become the Central Intelligence Agency. In 1993, she joined another CIA: the Culinary Institute of America. The group inducted Child into its Hall of Fame that year, making her the first woman to ever receive the honor.

14. Julia Child earned the highest civilian honors from the U.S. and France.

Along with that CIA distinction, Child received top civilian awards from both her home country and the country she considered her second home. In 2000, she accepted the Legion D’Honneur from Jacques Pépin at Boston’s Le Méridien hotel. Just three years later, George W. Bush gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

15. Julia Child's kitchen is in the Smithsonian.

In 2001, Julia donated the kitchen that Paul designed in their Cambridge, Massachusetts home to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Although it’s not possible to walk directly through it, there are three viewports from which visitors can see the high counters, wall of copper pots, and gleaming stove. Framed recipes, articles, and other mementos from her career adorn the surrounding walls—and, of course, there’s a television which plays her cooking shows on loop.