I wanted to talk with Rosalind Wiseman because I’d assumed she achieved the dream: stunning financial reward — and lifelong autonomy — because her book was a runaway bestseller turned into zeitgeist megahit.
I was wrong. Woefully wrong.
Wiseman is the author of Queen Bees and Wannabes, a 2002 self-help book that was the inspiration for the 2004 blockbuster Mean Girls, and the 2018 Broadway musical of the same name.
In our conversation, Wiseman decided to go on the record (for the first time) to explain how her high-profile Hollywood deal was not her biggest success. It’s come to feel more like her biggest failure. She’s kept her anger inside for all these years because she felt protective of the brand built on her idea. And also, women are taught to not express their anger.
She explains why she’s disappointed in Paramount Pictures. (Have you ever heard of “Hollywood accounting”?!) Also — this part was much harder — why she’s come to think of Tina Fey as a “Queen Bee.”
Rosalind knows that her words will open the floodgates to Mean Girl memes. She says that’s not her intention. She wants fellow creatives to have a rare, clear view into how the creative economy actually works.
Anyone who knows Hollywood deals will be utterly … unsurprised. Rosalind’s bum deal is like a lot of other bum deals. The difference is that she’s putting it on the record. Movie deals are usually shrouded in mystery — with lots of name-dropping but very little number-dropping. Also, we live in a different time. Think about it. We’re willing to revisit all sorts of norms and redistribute power.
This conversation schooled me. I hope it does the same for you.
Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman
Jobs lost, jobs gained: What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages by McKinsey Global Institute
- Facts & Figures on the Creative Economy by National Assembly of State Arts Agencies