Amber Heard is now a successful and celebrated leading actress, but recently, she decided to speak out about how tough the initial years of her career were, simply because she chose to be open about her bisexuality.
Heard recently spoke at The Economist's Pride & Prejudice event in New York, and spoke of the backlash she received for being openly queer in Hollywood.
She told the interviewer that Hollywood's studio bosses urged her not to come out as bisexual, as it would cast doubt over her ability to play straight female roles and therefore end her career.
“It did impact my career, it was difficult, it was not easy. I was the only one working in this way, so it was definitely difficult because no one had done it. I did that even though everyone told me it would end my career, without a doubt.”
"I [was open about my sexuality] even though everyone told me it would end my career, without a doubt.”
She said that studios executives told her that being attracted to women would cause her to lose roles, as her sexuality would make her seem "unavailable". She told the host, "As a leading lady, there’s a certain amount of wish fulfillment. I was asked, ‘How is anyone going to invest in you romantically if they think you’re unavailable?’ I said, ‘Watch me do it.’"
"I was asked, ‘How is anyone going to invest in you romantically if they think you’re unavailable?’ I said, ‘Watch me do it.’"
In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres on The Ellen Show in 2010, Heard said that she'd never 'hidden' her sexuality per se, and so never made a big 'coming out' statement, saying, "When I hear someone comment about me coming out, I think it’s funny because I was never in!"
She said her sexuality became news after a reporter asked her directly about her sexuality, and she nonchalantly responded honestly and "off the cuff": "I just answered honestly. I could tell by the look on this person’s face it was a big deal. My poor publicist!" Heard said that afterwards, she realised "the gravity" of what she had done, explaining, "I started to understand why so many people — studio execs, directors, advisers, agents, producers — why everyone was so adamant about this not being the label that comes before my name. I quickly became, not actress Amber Heard, but 'out lesbian' Amber Heard. I became attached to a label. I’ve never seen myself defined by the person I’m with.”
However, Heard now applauds and celebrates her fellow LGBTQIA actresses who have proudly come out and beaten the odds to become successful in an industry that treats sexuality as a handicap. She told the audience, “I stand here now amongst many of my romantic leading lady peers who are out and fluid. I’m one of many now, and I’m working,” she said. “If we’re meant to reflect the world around us, the whole point of telling stories and reaching audiences is to challenge the status quo, to push the envelope. Not just to meet the status quo. We’re in a unique position to do this. We need to be actively pushing.”
“I stand here now amongst many of my romantic leading lady peers who are out and fluid. I’m one of many now, and I’m working."
She also suggested that further representation is needed, and publicly asked her male counterparts to abandon their fears and come out proudly: “If every gay man that I know personally in Hollywood came out tomorrow, then this would be a non-issue in a month.”
You can see Amber's interview at The Economist's second annual Pride & Prejudice event below: