Outlander‘s Caitríona Balfe is lovable, outspoken, and fierce — both on-screen as Claire Fraser, and IRL through social media and interview appearances, where she never fails to stand up for her beliefs and fight for equal rights for all. Outlander co-star Lauren Lyle, who describes the Outlander cast as a “big family,” has recently launched podcast She’s a Rec, in which she interviews the coolest women of our time (Balfe of course included) and highlights the women-led works that have inspired them. But Lyle wasn’t always so outspoken about her passion for promoting women’s voices — and she says it was Balfe, right there on set with her, who taught her the importance of using her voice as only a celebrity with large platform can. There are plenty of haters who will tell actors to stay out of activism, but Lyle learned from Balfe why she needed to shut those voices out.
Lyle talked to SHE Media’s VP of Video Reshma Gopaldas at the #BlogHer20 Creators Summit about how she found the courage to start speaking her mind, and why Balfe was such an integral part of that process. But before Lyle and Balfe even became fast friends, Lyle’s outlook as an actor was shaped right away by finding a breakout role on Outlander.
“It’s been the most wonderful journey to be able to start my career with something like this,” Lyle explains, “on a show that so heavily promotes women and really tries their best to focus on that and be aware of it.
“Someone like Caitríona Balfe becoming a producer was a really cool move,” she adds. “She’s incredibly smart…she’s always on set reading a Guardian article or sitting reading the news and I’ll be over her shoulder. We’ll end up sitting down at a break and it would be like, ‘so, what’s happening in the world?'”
Since Lyle and Balfe were filming together so often, their schedules lined up, and they found themselves with hours of breaks to chat about issues that were important to them. Lyle already knew that Balfe wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, no matter what backlash it may have caused her. But getting an up-close look at Balfe’s true passion for activism awakened something within.
“Her already being in a very exposed platform, seeing that — [I realized] it’s cool and it’s the right thing to do to speak up when you feel you need to speak up on something that’s right or wrong and it’s good to do that and have your own sense of self and your opinions,” Lyle says. “People aren’t going to like it sometimes and that’s fine.”
“She’s very on it, and I find that very inspiring,” Lyle adds with a smile. “It just gave me a lot of confidence to say what I wanted to say and educate myself and have my own opinions.”
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I stand in solidarity with everyone protesting today …. we need change. The old systems do not serve. They never did. They must go. Also want to highly recommend everyone read or listen to The 1619 project from Nikole Hannah Jones for The New York Times. A must read/listen. #blacklivesmatter
The final lesson Balfe taught her, hard-won from the many trolls who have suggested she quiet down over the years? “Just because you’re in the entertainment industry doesn’t mean you can’t have a thought.”
If our worlds were deprived of Balfe’s and Lyle’s thoughts on current events, my timeline would certainly be poorer for it. Keep it coming, ladies — we’re listening.
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