An interview with Netflix’s Moxie cast: Amy Poehler, Hadley Robinson, and Lauren Tsai on feminism, love, and more

An interview with Netflix’s Moxie cast: Amy Poehler, Hadley Robinson, and Lauren Tsai on feminism, love, and more

True grit

Text: Emily Heng

For some of us, 8 March is no different from any other day. For others, it's a monumental occasion worthy of celebration. Should you be one of the latter looking to ring in International Women's Day with a bang, Netflix has ya covered. The streaming platform's latest original is titled Moxie; a comedy-drama directed by SNL alum Amy Poehler that addresses the rampant sexism and instances of gender inequality still experienced by women today. Based upon a YA novel, the 111-minute film transplants its viewers to high school — or, more specifically, into the life of Vivian Carter, a shy bookworm who aims to coast through the rest of her senior year. The arrival of a new student, however, proceeds to shake things up and triggers a feminist revolution amongst her peers.

It's a movie no lacking in heart and spirit; an exultant tackling of tired norms and stereotypes that persist in this day and age. An easy feat, it is not — which, naturally, necessitates a cast as resilient and fearless as its characters. And that's where Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsai, and Amy herself come in. Lucky for us, we got to the sit down with the cast to get the lowdown on Moxie, the high school experience, and more.

Since we're on the topic of girl power — who has been your biggest inspiration and why?
Amy Poehler: So many people inspire me right now. The young people who are leading, who are in charge of real change. The people that are working in small ways on the ground, and in grassroots movements. Like, people who, for example, canvassed in Atlanta, or worked hard to get out the vote. I'm very, very inspired by them. These are the people making a huge change for our country.

Amy, tell us what it was like casting both Hadley and Lauren.
Amy Poehler: I remember very clearly when Lauren and Hadley both came in, we were like, "Oh, that's our baby."  I think casting has to be very organic. It has a lot to do with chemistry. We watched them together and we were like, "There. We found it." And it's a huge relief, frankly, because you really need to believe these two women, and you need to care about them in this film. It was great just watching them interact with one another, and, you know, they are both really introverted. They describe themselves as glorious weirdos [Laughs]. They bonded over that in such a great way.

Moxie, as you all know, takes place in high school. What was everyone's high school experience like?
Amy Poehler: Well, we all have very different high school experiences. I think I would probably say my high school experience was very similar to the film. I went to a really big high school, where we had 1,200 students. And it was it felt a lot like the high school you see in the film: lots of rankings, lots of lists, a really strong athletic department, everybody worships the football players. There was a lot that reminded me of the typical American high school experience, but I know that Lauren and Hadley had different experiences.

Hadley Robinson: Yeah, I mean, I went to three high schools. Lauren went to two! And in the first two, I think there were a lot of similarities. There was a lot of unaddressed sexism and racism and there was a lot of harassment that happened. It went under the radar and was never checked. And in my third high school, I went to an arts high school and it was the complete opposite of that. Everybody was so open and talked about everything. It was so loving and empathetic.

Lauren Tsai: I went to a boarding school for my freshman year, which as Hadley was saying, came with a lot of racism. After that, I went to a very small Buddhist high school, where they were like, 15 kids per grade. So, I never really had the Moxie high school experience. Being on this film, I felt like I got to live that. I guess selfishly, that part was such an incredible experience for me.

Moxie is a coming of age movie with a love story, but it's not the crux of the film. Hadley, could you tell us about Seth and Vivian's relationship, as well as how it complements Vivian's character?
Hadley Robinson: Yeah, absolutely! Seth is the first person to really call Vivian out when she's doing things that are hurting people. And you know, when it comes from somebody that you love — and really respect — that's when you really listen, even though it's usually harder to give and receive. But yeah, he calls her out. And I think that's a huge part of the movie, is because they get to know each other so intimately. I think you can kind of gauge her journey through Seth and how he views her in a way.

Amy Poehler: Vivian gets to be her whole self around him. He can handle it; he can hold that container. That's what women want — they want to be able to be their entire authentic real self in real time. They want their partner to be able to not only hold and handle it, but love it, too. What we wanted to show an example of is, like, "Here's me! Here's all of me." And this other person should be, like, into it. That's what I want.