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Bruna Papandrea Wants More Female Voices on Hollywood Films

Bruna Papandrea

Bruna Papandrea has been producing for film and television for over 20 years. Gone Girl, Wild, and Big Little Lies are just a few of her hugely successful projects, but the one she’s most proud of is the movie that premiered on Netflix last week, it’s Luckiest Girl Alive.

As a producer on the film adaptation of Jessica Knoll’s dark and twisted 2015 novel, Papandrea has been leading her efforts to take the story from page to screen for nearly eight years. And while it was a long journey, giving up was not an option for her because she knew that her story and character (portrayed by Mila Kunis) needed a spotlight. 

“Honestly, the project I’m most proud of is Luckiest Girl Alive because it is completely unique in terms of the tone and the themes we were balancing,” the 51-year-old said in an interview with EW. “It’s about how this woman has turned herself into someone else to survive a trauma.” 

This story follows the life of a successful Ani Fanelli (Kunis) in his twenties suffering from past trauma. This is partially inspired by the author’s own experience.

Papandrea recognizes that the subject matter – gang rapes and school shootings – can be hard to watch for some; however, that’s the same reason she wants everyone to see it. She hopes it will spark hard and necessary conversations. 

“Everyone was so sensitive to all of it because that stuff is really hard to film, and it’s really hard to get right,” she stated. 

“That was the most important thing, doing it authentically. We consulted with RAINN, we consulted with [people from] Sandy Hook, we consulted with Respect Ability. And I’m just really proud that this core team stuck together and that it was a really harmonious, safe, wonderful experience. And hopefully [a lot of people are] going to see it because it’s Netflix.” 

The film reached Netflix’s Top 10 in 91 countries upon release, with over 43.08 million hours watched during its debut.

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Papandrea Wants to Tell Female Stories

Papandrea wants to produce more female-driven stories focusing on characters and voices that need to be echoed. 

“Getting to work on Big Little Lies with ensemble of women, not just in one great role but five female main roles, that to me is just so invigorating,” she stated. 

“But you don’t always get it right, and I think you learn as much from the things that don’t work as the things that do, but I’d rather take the risk and fail. I’m not scared to fail.” 

However, she wasn’t always sure about a vision for her life and work. As a matter of fact, Papandrea didn’t know producing projects about diverse female voices would ultimately become her life’s work – she apparently always thought she’d be an actor. 

“I got rejected from three of the best drama schools in Australia,” she said while laughing. 

“And then I wanted to be a writer, but I wasn’t good at that either, so I became a producer because I feel like all my interests convened in this one spot where I did feel like I was, even from a young age, kind of a champion.

“I was a very passionate young person, I loved telling stories, I loved the theater, I loved movies, I loved books. So, I was like, ‘maybe this is the job for me’ And what quickly became apparent to me was my skills in how I can help other people do that too.”

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Photo: EW

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