Amazon’s “Good Girls Revolt” Highlights Nora Ephron ’62 and Her Role as a Leader for Women in Journalism

November 3, 2016
Amazon’s “Good Girls Revolt” Highlights Nora Ephron ‘62’s Role as a leader for Women in Journalism

The new Amazon series Good Girls Revolt tells the story of women combating sexism in the field of journalism, in an era when men dominated the profession and the editorial positions in the newsroom. The series is based in part on the 2012 book The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace by Lynn Povich, one of a handful of women to file a gender discrimination lawsuit against Newsweek in 1970. At that time, the magazine’s female employees were not allowed to work as reporters.

Good Girls Revolt includes a character based on Nora Ephron ’62, who is introduced in the first episode as “Nora Ephron from Wellesley.” She quickly becomes a leader for women at the magazine, at one point confronting her editor about not getting credit for the work she did on a story. “That was me. I rewrote it,” Ephron declares. Her boss responds, “Girls do not do rewrites.” “Why not?” she asks. He says, “That’s simply how we do things here.”

 

 

Ephron’s early career differed slightly from the show’s fictional account of it. She was no longer working at Newsweek when the landmark lawsuit was filed—by 1970, she was already a successful reporter at the New York Post.

In the TV show, Ephron’s character ultimately quits her job in protest. The same editor who doubts her editing skills also doubts her future, saying, “Your name is all you have in journalism. So good luck, Nora Ephron!”

The irony, of course, is that Nora Ephron went on to a writing career that spanned journalism, fiction, theater, essays, and film. She wrote the screenplays for critically acclaimed—and culturally adored—movies including Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally…, and Julie & Julia (which she also directed and produced).

There is also another connection between Wellesley and the series. Grace Gummer, who plays Ephron, told InStyle magazine that she studied Ephron’s 1996 Wellesley commencement speech while preparing for the role. “She had a great commencement speech that she gave to Wellesley in the ’90s that I watched over and over. When you play someone who actually existed who was also so beloved, it’s hard to be exactly them because you’re naturally, obviously, not.” Gummer also drew inspiration for the role from her mother, Meryl Streep, who was a close friend of Ephron’s.

It’s understandable why Gummer was inspired by that speech. Consider these words of wisdom that Ephron shared that day: “Be the heroine of your life.” Words to live by in the era of Good Girls Revolt as well as today.

 

image: Good Girls Revolt still used with permission