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Greta Gerwig says 'Barbie' movie success 'was not guaranteed'

This Barbie is Time's Women of the Year cover star.

On Tuesday, Time unveiled its 12 picks for the Women of the Year issue, including filmmaker Greta Gerwig as the outlet's cover, Taraji P. Henson and Andra Day. Each of the honorees discussed some of the challenges they've faced amid their careers and their hopes for the future.

"I remember thinking, 'If this works, everyone is going to think later that it was inevitable,'" the "Barbie" director said in an interview on the success of her Oscar-nominated film. "They'll say, 'Well, but it was Barbie.' But this was not guaranteed."

Gerwig, who has directed other film's resonating with girlhood and womanhood such as "Little Women" and "Lady Bird," says that the success of her movies shouldn't be solely credited for their themes around gender.

Greta Gerwig is the cover star of Time's Women of the Year issue.
Greta Gerwig is the cover star of Time's Women of the Year issue.

"I always think about the intuitive way you love a song or a movie. You love something, and you just love it. You don’t think to yourself, 'I have to love this because it’s by a woman, for a woman,'" she commented. "That's part of it. But it's not why you love it. You love it because it's great."

Many fans, including "Barbie" star Ryan Gosling, were outraged over Gerwig not receiving a best director nomination at the upcoming Oscars ceremony.

Gerwig added, "I want to be able to make a body of work that feels like it's undeniable in terms ofthe work itself. I don't want there to be an asterisk next to my name. Do I have more of that than male filmmakers? I don't know! I know plenty of deeply insecure male filmmakers who are plagued in their own ways."

Her next project is a new adaption of the first book in C.S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia" series for Netflix.

Taraji P. Henson discussed driving the conversation about pay inequity forward in her Time interview.
Taraji P. Henson discussed driving the conversation about pay inequity forward in her Time interview.

Taraji P. Henson on her push for equity in Hollywood

Henson's comments about pay inequity while doing press for "The Color Purple" continued conversation about the fiscal worth Hollywood has placed on successful Black women.

The actress said she felt compelled to push the discussion forward in public spaces, because "if we stay talking in small little circles, that's not going to change anything."

"But we do have allies out there, which I’ve found out by telling my truth," she added.

Henson likened her experience to that of the characters in "The Color Purple." "I'm in a movie about women who don't have a voice and are trying to find it. So who's going to stand up for them?"

It's also a part of the reason she's spent time on other streams of income outside of acting, including a production company and her hair-care brand TPH. "I'm 53, and I'm getting tired," she told Time. "And then the disrespect: If there's a playground no one wants you to play on, are you going to keep showing up and hurting yourself?"

Henson has often portrayed characters dealing with the intersection between racism and sexism, from Shug Avery in "The Color Purple" to NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson in "Hidden Figures."

While it's important to share those stories, she noted that she has to be "conscious of making sure I’m not losing myself" when her characters experiences overlap with her own.

'The math ain't math-ing': Taraji P. Henson tearfully speaks out about pay inequality

Recording artist Andra Day sings Lift Every Voice and Sing before Super Bowl LVIII between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium.
Recording artist Andra Day sings Lift Every Voice and Sing before Super Bowl LVIII between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium.

Andra Day on the journey to singing the Black national anthem at Super Bowl 58

Day "had always been denied" the opportunity to sing the Black national anthem at events prior to her performance of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" at Super Bowl 58 earlier this month.

"I got to a point where I was like, 'OK, until I can do that anthem, I don't really want to do it again,'" she said of prior requests to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Doing things her way has also set the precedent for the type of projects she plans to do in the future.

Although she knows fans are hoping for a similarly uplifting song like her 2015 inspirational ballad "Rise Up" or calls for her to take on an Eartha Kitt biopic after starring as Billie Holiday in "The United States vs. Billie Holiday," Day said she's prioritizing her own desires.

"I'm really just trying to heal my voice and learn the new pocket that it's in," she said, explaining that she suffered damage to her voice due to smoking cigarettes to mimic Holiday's sound while filming the movie.

Day added, "Maybe I will inspire differently on this album by just talking about my experiences. I gave myself the freedom to do that."

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Time Women of the Year are Greta Gerwig, Taraji P. Henson, Andra Day