Culture

Caitlin Stasey Claims Good Weekend Canned An Interview With Her Because She Wouldn’t Pose Nude

"A 'concept' they never ran past me, that I never agreed to, that they sprung on me last second," she tweeted. "You entitled cunts."

In January this year, Caitlin Stasey — star of Neighbours, Please Like Me, and Tomorrow, When The War Began, and an outspoken feminist — launched a new website: Herself.com.

The site featured frank, longform interviews with women of diverse backgrounds discussing conventionally taboo topics around body image and sexuality, accompanied by beautiful nude photography that embraced the many variations of women’s bodies; Stasey herself was the first subject. “Herself is a gesture to women for women by women; a chance to witness the female form in all its honesty without the burden of the male gaze, without the burden of appealing to anyone,” she said at the time. “These women are simply and courageously existing, immortalised within these photos … Let us reclaim our bodies. Let us take them back from those who seek to profit from our insecurity.”

It didn’t take long for the site to go viral, bringing with it generous heapings of support and acclaim from feminists in Australia and abroad. It also brought a huge amount of coverage — Junkee’s own story got close to 80,000 views — which made interviews with Stasey a hot commodity. Like all publications everywhere, Fairfax supplement Good Weekend wanted in on that action; according to Stasey and a report in Crikey, she was emailed a request for an interview, for a piece to be published early this year. A writer was flown out to Toronto to talk to her, and an accompanying photoshoot was promised — but the feature got waylaid after Stasey was sent a mood board of the proposed look and feel of the shoot, which featured only naked or barely-dressed women. When she refused to pose like that, she says, the feature was delayed and, finally, cancelled.

Stasey has spoken out publicly this morning, in a series of Tweets that escalate in frustration, as she explains why she believes Good Weekend no longer had the space for the piece. “They wanted to team an interview about my upset over the constant objectification of women with a sexualized photo shoot,” she says. “I declined. And miraculously, conveniently after I said I wouldn’t do it, they claimed the magazine was downsized and wouldn’t run the piece”.

Referring to the organisation as “entitled cunts” and “arrogant”, she points the finger specifically at Good Weekend editor Ben Naparstek, excerpting an email dialogue between her staff and his, to underline her allegation that he was “claiming (lying) that we had agreed to the vision board he had chosen”.

This morning, Crikey reported they have seen some of these emails between Stasey and her publicist, and between the publicist and the director of the shoot. “In April, Stasey’s publicist wrote that she called up Good Weekend editor Ben Naparstek to ask why the shoot was not going ahead,” writes Crikey’s Myriam Robin. “According to the publicist, Naparstek told her over the phone that he was unwilling to spend money on the shoot unless the planned concept went ahead. The publicist says she told Naparstek that that concept had never been discussed with her or Stasey, and Naparstek apologised for the miscommunication.” According to Crikey, the magazine then said it would use pre-existing photos, before pulling the feature altogether and prompting Stasey to finally speak out.

In a comment sent to Junkee, Naparstek has backed up her claims that, denied the shoot they were after, Good Weekend decided to delay the piece. But he claims the profile was not pulled altogether, as Stasey suggested; instead, he says, it will be running later in the year, pegged not to Herself.com but to two forthcoming series that she stars in.

“I totally understood and respected Caitlin’s decision not to pursue our shoot, which would have been a classy shoot with a leading American fashion photographer in line with the beautiful artistic imagery she’d published of herself on Herself.Com, which she’d just launched,” Naparstek says. “We decided not to pursue the shoot when her agent offered us access to existing portraits instead. But with the Herself.Com peg no longer as strong, we decided to delay the profile until later in the year so it could be tied to the new seasons of her series Please Like Me and Reign. Apologies to Caitlin for any miscommunication.”

Responding to Stasey’s allegations that the direction of the shoot was not discussed with her ahead of time, Naperstek says, “Clearly that was a misunderstanding, as I was never under the impression that she’d agreed to our concept.”

[UPDATE 1:50pm]: Stasey has rejected Naperstek’s claim that Good Weekend cancelled the shoot after they were offered existing portraits. “[Another] shoot was scheduled after I voiced my concerns and asked for a new theme,” she said, in a Tweet that includes an email cancelling the shoot. “YOU thn cancelled.”

CORRECTION: The initial iteration of this piece said Naparstek “backed up [Stasey’s] claims that, denied the shoot they were after and given access only to existing portraits, Good Weekend decided to delay the piece”. Stasey has requested a correction, maintaining she never claimed that; she says that before her team offered existing portraits they offered a different shoot, which was subsequently cancelled. Naparstek claims this different shoot was never arranged.

Here’s the full run of tweets as they happened:

Feature image taken at the 2014 GLAAD Media Awards in L.A, by Jason Merritt for Getty