Latest film of Margot Robbie, I, Tonya, has garnered a string of nominations, including one for Best Actress at the Golden Globes. Australia’s hottest new actress is perhaps best known for her roles as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, Jane in Tarzan or the wife of The Wolf of Wall Street gangster, Jordan Belfort. She is famed for her stunning looks and natural acting style, but many of her fans probably are not even aware that she produced the film I, Tonya, a movie about toxic masculinity and child abuse.

The film is riding the wave of the new feminist revolution in Hollywood, asking the audience to take a fresh look at the media frenzy that surrounded Olympic figure skater, Tonya Harding, following an unprecedented attack on rival, Nancy Kerrigan, in a hallway outside the skating rink where she had been practising for the Winter Olympics.

Who is the Victim?

It was in January, 1994, when film footage was aired of Kerrigan screaming “Why?” repeatedly while lying on the floor, hodling onto her legs, which had just been smashed with a police baton by an assailant hired by Harding’s ex-husband. At the time, the media took great delight in lambasting Harding, who alleged that she had nothing to do with the attack.

I, Tonya opens the doors to the childhood and adolescence of Harding, whom the media always had a field day with owing to her tough upbringing and poverty. She was specifically referred to in event commentaries as being “from the wrong neck of the woods” while Kerrigan was hailed as a sort of princess, despite the fact that, as Margot Robbie notes, “she apparently came from a blue-collar family herself.”

As Robbie told R29, “I think it was easier to present Tonya as the villain because she just wasn’t the image that the figure skating world wanted. I’ve watched every video of her skating like a thousand times over and the number of times they comment on the class of family she comes from… it’s about which box they decided to put each woman in.”

A Feminist View of the Harding-Kerrigan Scandal

Robbie notes that women are often pitted against each other in the media. Harding herself said that she and Kerrigan were never actually enemies. As part of the same Olympic team, they got along well. Of course, many viewers fail to find anything sympathetic at all about Harding, despite the abuse she was subjected to as a child. “The real victim,” said Piers Morgan to Harding herself, “was Nancy Kerrigan.” For Robbie, from a feminist standpoint, both women were victims.

Margot Robbie’s production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, currently has 13 films in development, not bad for an actor whose first big break was The Wolf of Wall Street, released only four years ago. In his tribute to Robbie when she was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2017, Martin Scorsese noted that she was feisty from the word go. “Margot has… a unique audacity that surprises and challenges and just burns like a brand into every character she plays. She clinched her part in The Wolf of Wall Street during our first meeting – by hauling off and giving Leonardo DiCaprio a thunderclap of a slap on the face, an improvisation that stunned us all…,” he wrote. Not bad for a girl from the Gold Coast whose first break was in popular TV series, Neighbours.

The Road Less Taken

Robbie gained the confidence to launch her company after a string of successful films, and while she acknowledges that entrepreneurship is “hard and stressful,” she has taken off a load of pressure by working alongside her “best friends.”

Stand By Me

Her partners include Josey McNamara, Sophia Kerr and Tom Ackerley – the first two have been her close friends for years and the third is her husband, an assistant director she met while filming Suite Française (if the film doesn’t ring a bell, it’s because Robbie has worked on many independent projects in addition to big blockbusters).

When asked by Vogue what working with friends was like, she responded, “A lot of people cautioned us against starting a company with our friends, and I was actually really disappointed with how many people told us that it was a bad idea. But I guess we’re one of the exceptions to the rule because we’re still all the best of friends and we love working together.”

Margot Robbie is proud to be a feminist – someone who supports equal social, emotional and economic equality for all, yet she acknowledges that earlier in her career, she was reticent to express her beliefs, fearing she would be labelled a “man hater.” Luckily, the new millennium has brought a fresh wave of feminism along with it – a discussion in which men are as welcome as women.
With respect to the Weinstein scandal, she notes that Hollywood is developing procedures to ensure that abuse ceases to exist. For instance, work is already underway to establish stronger support systems (including financial support) for those who are affected by sexual assault/abuse/chauvinism.

In addition to stressing the importance of speaking up, she hopes to continue inspiring women by producing and starring in interesting roles. Soon, she will be appearing in Robin Hood as Maid Marian. Don’t expect her to play the damsel in distress, though; this character will be her own saviour, favouring Robin’s cause and ultimately saving the kingdom. The question remains… why has it taken so long for this type of heroine (and Margot Robbie) to lead the feminist wave the world still sorely lacks?


Who is Margot?

Margot Robbie was born in Queensland, Australia, in 1990, completing her studies in drama at Somerset College. Her acting career began in the soap opera Neighbours (2008-2011), for which she earned two Logie Awards (the Aussie Oscars) nominations.

She began her career in Hollywood in 2011, starring in the drama series, Pan Am (2011-2013). In 2013 she had a minor role in About Time (2013), a small-budget rom com that nevertheless attracted the attention of no less than Martin Scorsese, who cast her for The Wolf of Wall Street.

Margot’s star may have risen fast and far in the City of Stars, but she has ensured her personal life is as rich and fulfilling. She is married to British assistant director Tom Ackerley, whom she met while filming Suite Française in 2015 and with whom she lived (alongside three other friends!) in a three-bedroom house. By 2016, they were married and now live in Los Angeles, where they continue to thrive both personally and professionally.

In addition to I, Tonya, you can catch Margot this year in Peter Rabbit (she is the voice of Flopsy the rabbit), Terminal (a drama thriller directed by Vaughn Stein) and Dreamland (produced by Margot’s LuckyChap Entertainment and directed by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte). Dreamland is set in the 1930s; it is about a 17-year-old boy on a quest to find a fugitive bank robber and collect the bounty reward offered by the police, to save his family from foreclosure.