Hillary Clinton Explains Why She Chose a Female Director for Her New Hulu Series

Ronald Reagan went from being an actor to serving as U.S. president. But it’s still always interesting to see politicians lean into the world of entertainment. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, for example, produced the 2019 Academy Award-nominated documentary American Factory.

Now Hillary Clinton is getting into the entertainment business. But Clinton is in front of the camera, not behind it. Hillarya new docuseries on Hulu — launches in March. And Clinton’s making the rounds, including the Sundance Film Festival, to promote the new show.

Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks onstage
Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks onstage | Suzi Pratt/Getty Images for Refinery29

What we know about Hulu’s ‘Hillary’

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Nanette Burstein (1999’s On the Ropes) directs Hillary, based on 35 hours worth of interviews with Clinton. Over four hours, the series contends not only with the 2016 presidential election but the totality of Clinton’s political career.

“While I was watching all the behind-the-scenes footage, I was also reading everything — the good, the bad, and the ugly,” Burstein told Variety. “And I realized what a touchstone she is and how she’s always just been at the tip of the spear.”

To provide a more complete picture of Clinton’s impact, Burstein tackles everything, including her law career and her runs as both First Lady and Secretary of State. Other interviews include Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Why gender affected who directed ‘Hillary’

Considering Clinton’s staunchly feminist background, she wanted a female director crafting Hillary. Ultimately, Burstein’s combination of credentials and perspective

“I wanted to have the best director, and I had a preference for a woman director,” Clinton said to Variety. “I thought, No. 1, we need more women directors. And No. 2, a woman director would have an understanding of some of the issues in a very real way that would translate to the screen.”

A woman or a person of color brings life experience and context to any project, and this is a key argument for diversity in entertainment. Because Clinton’s politics inexorably connect with her gender, the filmmaking should reflect this. Unfortunately, the 2020 Oscar nominations once again raised the questionable representation for women in the industry, much to Clinton’s dismay.

“I know they’re making an effort,” she said, “and I applaud them for their effort. But I really hope that it’s not just an effort; it produces some results and the work that women are doing and the importance of it is recognized by the Academy every year.”

Hillary Clinton on her favorite films of 2019

In a year Clinton said featured “so many notable films” from female directors, some of the Oscar snubs feel more embarrassing than others. Filmmakers like Hustlers‘ Lorene Scafaria, The Farewell‘s Lulu Wang, and Booksmart‘s Olivia Wilde deserved some recognition, fans argue. Yet, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women received several nominations — including Best Picture — with no Best Director nod for Gerwig’s leadership.

“I loved Little Women,” Clinton said. “So I thought [Gerwig] should have been nominated. I really thought she deserved it because I thought it was beautifully done. And the way that it was constructed made the best use of the book.”

In addition, Clinton name-checked Amazon Studios’ Adam Driver-led drama The Report as well as Rian Johnson’s murder-mystery Knives Out. In the latter case, the filmmaker himself even reacted on social media. If Hillary does Clinton’s story justice, perhaps we’ll see similar praise for Burstein’s series in the year ahead.

Hillary premieres on Hulu on March 6, 2020.