Emma Stone: “Be kinder to yourself”
La La Land is currently the film on everyone’s lips after its record-breaking haul at this year’s Golden Globes. The film is also being tipped to clean up at the Oscars in February. The Red Bulletin sat down with leading lady Emma Stone to find out that anyone can do what she does, or at least try to.
THE RED BULLETIN: Thanks to La La Land, you’re now a musical star even though you’re not really a singer.
EMMA STONE: Yes, I’m not a traditionally a great singer or dancer. I don’t have the vocal capacity to do eight shows a week, or play a really strong lead female role in a musical. There are even a few moments in the film where a little misstep or something off-key can be seen.
So anyone can do what you did?
I suppose so. I mean, I had roles in a lot of amateur musicals when I was younger, but I was only able to play the role in Cabaret on Broadway because the character, Sally Bowles, isn’t a great singer. She is in a third-rate nightclub. La La Land also isn’t about perfection. We were lucky that when something was out of tune, we could fix it a little in post. But for the most part, it was live singing, and director Damien Chazelle didn’t mind if it was a little raw. He didn’t want us to feel like professional musical theatre performers.
What tips would you give to anyone trying to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t be afraid to sing. I used to be so nervous about not sounding good that I lost my voice. A singing coach taught me to use these emotions to my advantage. You don’t always have to be crystal clear, you just need to make sure you’re singing from the heart. And you don’t need classical training for that! Since then I love singing – I sing in the bath, in the car, everywhere.
Can you learn something about yourself through singing?
It can make you less afraid to try things that are challenging and scary. It can force you to be kinder to yourself. I lost my voice so often during Cabaret because of the stress and not getting enough sleep. I had to really be kind to myself and be okay with being a human being that loses her voice and gets sick. You can fail sometimes, and that’s a good thing. No one is perfect.
Do you need to be a dreamer to achieve greatness?
I was definitely a dreamer growing up. I spent lots of time in my room, painting these big pictures of the future and the stories I wanted to tell. I also read a lot, imagining myself as the main character.
These dreams are now part of your daily routine. Do you become a little cynical when you work in this business?
You can keep your ideology and belief in magic, but everything definitely becomes a little more complicated when your passion becomes your job. When you do something that you love, and then all of a sudden you have to start thinking about the business side of it, then it can be difficult to change your way of thinking. For a while I definitely struggled with that.
La La Land is about people following and living their dreams in Hollywood. Is this something that you would recommend?
One of the interesting things about Los Angeles is that most of the people living in the city are here for a common goal: to work in the entertainment industry. Not all of the hundreds of thousands of people who come here to try this are going to make it, or at least not at the level that they want to or dream about. That can be a bit soul crushing. But of course, I’m never going to tell anyone to not follow their dreams. I did! It really is a magical moment when things work out. But there’s no one-size-fits-all recipe on how to ‘make it’ in this industry. There were moments when I thought about quitting, but I was pretty lucky. Superbad ended up happening before I was 18 and completely changed my life. So I guess it was meant to be.