Page 12 - CSA Speaker Bulletin September 2017 | CSA Celebrity Speakers
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                           HELEN FIELDING

Helen Fielding is a novelist          one girl felt about trying to navigate     Q.Did you feel it was
and screenwriter, best known          life and her identity in the media age.                  important to you to
as the creator of the fictional       If I’d known, then, that so many people                  write the screenplays
character Bridget Jones, which        were going to read the diaries, I’d never  for the film adaptations? Was
has become a megabrand                have dared write them. But the fact        there a danger that the essential
known globally around the             that it became so popular did open my      essence of Bridget Jones would
world, with her third book            eyes to a huge global issue - especially   be lost?
Bridget Jones: Mad About the          for women. Bridget is a product of the
Boy achieving record-breaking         media age where women especially           Writing a screenplay is a very different
first day sales in the UK.            are inundated with images of how we        job from writing a novel. A screenplay
Bridget Jones is a brand which        are supposed to look, and multiple         is much shorter and tighter, and has to
has endured since 1996 to the         roles that we feel we are supposed         move along more efficiently. Things that
current day and shows no sign         to be brilliant at. I think Bridget        are explained at length in a novel are
of diminishing. Helen spoke to        communicates with women in the same        shown very quickly, visually, in a movie.
us recently about what inspired       way I observe women communicating          I much prefer writing novels, but it was
her to create the character and       with each other. We don’t arrive for       very important for me to stay involved
her motivation for re-inventing       a glass of wine with our friends and       with the movies in order to keep
her and keeping her relevant          immediately say “Oh, oh look at me;        Bridget’s character, and the meaning of
for today’s audiences.                I’m so thin, beautiful and successful.”    the stories true.
                                      We share our insecurities, flaws and
Q.What do you think                   things that have gone wrong, process        It is easy to get Bridget’s character
              it is about Bridget     them, laugh about them and support         wrong - if you lose her kindness and
              Jones that has          each other. Bridget, without realising it  resilience, then she begins to seem
made her books and films so           herself, stands for the important human    self-obsessed, if you lose the irony and
phenomenally successful? Do           qualities: warmth, kindness, emotional     layers of meaning then the whole thing
we identify with her or feel sorry    honesty, resilience, the strength to       seems like a simple romantic comedy -
for her?                              admit to being vulnerable, flawed and      the search for a man. If you don’t want
                                      therefore human, and the ability to        her to seem self-pitying and sad, you
At heart Bridget Jones is about the   laugh at yourself and your misfortunes,    have to keep the humour and sense of
gap between how we all feel we’re     pick yourself up, dust yourself off and    fun. So it’s vital that I stay on the case
expected to be and how we actually    keep going.                                and speak up to keep Bridget on track.
are. Because I originally started
writing Bridget’s diary anonymously,  I love the fact that these qualities are   Q.You approach life with
as a column in a newspaper, it freed  celebrated through Bridget and that                      great humour, how
me up to be much more honest than I   they are seen as more important than                     important is this as a
would otherwise have been, about how  a fashionably large handbag and a          communication tool for life?
                                      bottom like two billiard balls.

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