Amber Tamblyn is uniquely positioned to talk about movies for young women. After cementing her place in teen movie history as one-fourth of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants crew, the actress added writer and producer to her resume before making her directorial debut with Paint It Black, currently streaming on Netflix — and she did it all with the support and friendship of the women who have been standing by her side for more than a decade: Blake Lively, Alexis Bledel, and America Ferrera.
MTV News caught up with the vocal Time’s Up supporter at the Makers Conference in L.A., where she detailed three lessons she learned from those life-mirroring-art friendships and how we can nurture more of them for young women — on the big screen and beyond — because, as she put it, "It's really, really important to have long term relationships with girls."
Lean into your differences
Tamblyn credits part of the strength of the quad’s “unique friendship” to the undeniable bonding experience a movie set offers, and the rest to their individuality. “The four of us are so vastly different that [it] kind of brings us together, in a weird way, because we learn so much from each other, and we're constantly checking in and texting each other for different types of advice. That's what makes really good friendships, when you have key principles that connect you, but then at the same time, you have somebody that can teach you,” she said.
Constant communication is not necessary
Like many relationships, Tamblyn insists the Sisterhood sisterhood has an "ebb and flow" and it's not always a group text they're sharing. "Sometimes we won’t talk for six months and sometimes we talk every single day for months," she explained. “Sometimes I’m closer with America and then sometimes I’m closer with Blake, and then sometimes Blake is closer with Alexis."
Healthy relationships have their ups and downs
Actually, that fluidity is what makes their bond so strong. “You know, things move around. Friendships are mercurial in that way, and that’s what makes them so beautiful … They shift, and that’s really healthy to remember that,” she said. “Even sometimes you get in fights with your best friends, and that’s important, but you never want to wreck anything entirely.”
And getting female friendships on screen is just as important as having them. "Young women haven't been given the opportunity to know what they want out of film and television," she said. "There have been very few examples of things that aren't sort of soft-served to them or sort of talked down to them."
Tamblyn offers that we need more films that show teen girls as they are — “the smartest human beings on the plant,” adding, “They are empaths, they are psychics, they are in their deepest power structure when they’re at that young age – we are … it would be so much better to have films that nurture how deeply women are capable of feeling and knowing.”
As far as actually getting these movies and television shows made, it's going to take more girl power behind the scenes. "Across the board we just need more women everywhere in positions of power, and that will start to make it possible for more stories about friendships between women to be told," she said.
Well, we can think of at least one female actor, writer, producer, and director with the passion and insight to lead the charge.