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‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’: Jessica Chastain: ‘Friends in the industry have told me to stop talking, to be careful’ | Culture

Actress Jessica Chastain, who has just been nominated for an Oscar.
Actress Jessica Chastain, who has just been nominated for an Oscar.Charlie Grey

Jessica Chastain is celebrating a decade in cinema. “Can you believe it?” she asks from a hotel room in María Cristina Hotel in San Sebastián in Spain’s Basque Country. “Do I get a cake? Because this is a celebration…,” she says pointing to her green detox juice and the two identical glasses on the table (the second one has just been brought in without a word about what was wrong with the first). Among other things, Chastain has spent the decade trying to get a movie made about televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker.

During the 1980s, Bakker and her husband Jim built a Christian-Evangelical empire – one that included a television channel and a theme park. When she was arrested for fraud and conspiracy, the media turned her into a national joke for her excessive naivety, enthusiasm and makeup. In The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Jessica Chastain retells her story – a role that has landed her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Chastain also produced the movie. But this is not the first film this year in which the 44-year-old has acted and produced, she also wore both hats on The 355, a movie about a group of international super spies, which also stars Penélope Cruz, Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger and Fan Bingbing. This year, Chastain is taking center stage.

The world first discovered Chastain at the premiere of The Tree of Life (2011) at the Cannes Film Festival, when she walked the red carpet with Brad Pitt on one side and Sean Penn on the other, evoking classic Hollywood glamor. In reality, she gripped on to them because she was worried her legs would give way. “I didn’t feel anxiety about connecting to other artists and getting to work with people I really admire, I more felt anxiety about the media,” she explains. “This is the first time I’m realizing this as I’m talking. In the same way that the media devoured Tammy, there’s a sense of devouring women, treating them as commodities.”

People were so upset that my character didn’t have a love story in Zero Dark Thirty. Journalists and critics would ask me about things like that

In 2011, another five films were released that starred Chastain. In the space of one year, the actress – who gets embarrassed when people sing Happy Birthday to her in public – found herself presenting a film in Berlin, another in Toronto, two in Cannes and another two in Venice. Movies such as Take Shelter, The Help and The Debt showcased her versatility and she began to be lauded as the “best actress of her generation,” or as in the words of Al Pacino – who picked her for the docudrama Salomé – “the next Meryl Streep.” But Chastain felt that it was just a matter of time before she disappointed everyone. “I’m the unknown everyone’s already sick of,” she said at the time.

When she won a Golden Globe for her role in Zero Dark Thirty, Chastain said in her acceptance speech that she had worked very hard to get where she was. The magazine Variety later published an anonymous statement from a Hollywood public relations agency that warned that these kinds of statements do not tend to go down well. Meanwhile, everyone was talking about the new rising star, Jennifer Lawrence, who was admired by all. This is when the rumors began that the two actresses couldn’t stand one another. But instead of ignoring the rumors, Chastain dismissed them in a message on Facebook – a move that was not common back in 2013. Since then, she hasn’t stopped speaking out.

“People were so upset that my character didn’t have a love story in Zero Dark Thirty. Journalists and critics would ask me about things like that,” she says. “I constantly said ‘I am playing a woman who isn’t defined by the relationship in her life, she’s defined by her work.’ And it’s a very shocking thing for society to acknowledge because it’s a reality – but it’s not the media’s reality of what a woman is. So that’s when I started speaking up about it.” Without looking at the face of her publicist, she adds: “I absolutely have people in the industry who are dear friends, who I know care about me and love me, tell me to stop talking. It’s like ‘be careful’ of saying too much, because they wanted to make sure that I would have a long career.”

Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield in ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye.’
Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield in ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye.’

Chastain’s background is in theater. At 21 years of age, she won a scholarship to The Juilliard School, the most prestigious performing arts school in the United States, which allowed her to become the first member of her family to receive a university education. She learned how to play complex female characters, but when she arrived in Hollywood, she realized that the film industry had little to offer her. Not even after two consecutive Oscar nominations. So in 2016, she founded production company Freckle Films. “I wanted to use my career and my work as political filmmaking in terms of how we as a society view gender, race, class, sexual identity and sexual preference.”

But Hollywood has changed over the past decade, and Chastain is now one of the most visible faces of this new shift. In 2017, she called out filmmaker Bryan Singer on Twitter, sharing an article that highlighted the sexual assault allegations against the director of X-Men-Dark Phoenix. When asked about actor Johnny Depp’s preference for working with an earpiece so as not to have to learn his lines, she said she preferred to be “professional” and learn the script. And she has also become a vocal advocate for equal pay, helping actress Octavia Spencer, her co-star in The Help, negotiate a salary five times her initial pay for a film together.

Al Pacino and Jessica Chastain in 2006.
Al Pacino and Jessica Chastain in 2006.Stephen Shugerman (Getty Images)

“There was that moment in Cannes… I was not planning on saying that. It went viral.” Chastain is referring to a press conference at the end of the 2017 festival, which she had participated in as a jury member. During the conference, she confessed that she found the representation of female characters in the official selection “disturbing.” Chastain argued that if there were more female directors, there would be more diversity in the female characters in films of the official selection. “After I said that, I went, ‘Oh did I just hurt a festival that has been so generous with me?’ The reality was very sweet. Thierry Fremàux [the director of the Cannes Film Festival] a year later in press said that he was so grateful that we had talked about women in the festival and that they had made changes because of that.” She herself has seen those changes: “I don’t think about something before I say it, I just say it.” Although she confesses: “There are times when I go, ‘Oh gosh, now it’s going to become a huge thing’.”

Another challenge has been balancing the roles of actor and producer. She explains: “The producer wants to get the movie made, the actor wants more time.” This conflict can cause tension, especially when it comes to a character that requires as much preparation as Tammy Faye Bakker, someone who can easily fall into caricature. “I had to just completely embarrass myself in this part, which is not a fun thing to do,” she explains. “I thought for my whole life, they could go, ‘Oh God Jessica’s Tammy was crazy.’ That could be the joke that follows me for my whole career. And I had to be okay with that.”

But The Eyes of Tammy Faye does not descend into caricature because it treats the character with tenderness. That’s not to say it ignores her eccentricity, but instead of parodying her as the media did, the movie portrays her as a woman who triumphed in a man’s industry.

(l-r) Fan Bingbing, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz y Lupita Nyong'o at the Cannes Film Festival.
(l-r) Fan Bingbing, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz y Lupita Nyong’o at the Cannes Film Festival.George Pimentel (WireImage)

After the scandal of her divorce, Bakker became a hero of the gay community. She said that when everyone turned their back on her, it was the LGBTQ+ community who came to her aid. “And I will always love them for that.” A 2000 documentary about Bakker, titled The Eyes of Tammy Faye, was narrated by drag queen RuPaul, and serves as the basis for Chastain’s movie.

“Tammy was fabulously camp, but you also don’t want to do something that’s just that. She would have fun and make people laugh, but I always saw loneliness in everything she did. Even when she was being funny. To me, she was so innately lonely. And that’s why I think she desperately wanted to love people, people who felt different, on the outside, because she felt on the outside.”

As a producer, Chastain believes that the best strategy is to alternate “grown-up” movies such as The Eyes of Tammy Faye with more commercial fare such as The 355. The idea for the latter project came about at the 2017 Cannes festival. She explains how she felt “a certain… sadness” at the sight of so many film posters with male casts, which were seeking financing. She asked her agent: “Why are they all men?” Her agent replied: “I think you will have to find a way to do it yourself.” The end result is a movie produced via a kind of cooperative: the five female stars will be the owners of the movie and will split the profits. A number of Hollywood studios tried to buy it, but they turned them down. “They already had the chance to make this film,” she states.



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Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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— By Darren Wilson, Team VoiceOfEU.com

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