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Sarah Snook Originally Turned Down ‘Succession’ Role Over ‘Sexism,’ Didn’t Want to Be a ‘Prop’

"If the world is going to be interested in a bunch of white dudes talking about business, and if I'm the only woman in that, then I'm likely to get sidelined."



Macall Polay

Succession” could have looked very different.

The Emmy-winning HBO drama stars Sarah Snook as Siobhan “Shiv” Roy, the daughter of media mogul Logan Roy (Brian Cox), who is vying to be his successor against siblings Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin) and Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong). While Snook has been Emmy-nominated for her turn as the no-nonsense exec, Snook revealed that she originally turned down the role.

“When I first got offered the role, I said no,” Snook told Variety. “If the world is going to be interested in a bunch of white dudes talking about business, and if I’m the only woman in that, then I’m likely to get sidelined and be like some sort of prop. I don’t feel like that personally, nor do I feel like I want to compete for that. No, I don’t want to do this job, and then it came back again.”

Snook continued, “Through blind faith, I thought, ‘Well, the creatives are interesting. You may be one of the only women in the pilot, but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to get sidelined necessarily and maybe this is an opportunity for you to just fight for female characters.'”

According to Snook, “Succession” has “a focus lens toward that kind of sexism,” in part to mirror the real world.

“It is present in the show because it’s present in real life, it’s there, and that’s inherent in the characters’ behavior, as well as the things they say,” Snook said. “There is so much sexism and so much misogyny against you just having an opinion because you’re a woman. It’s so frustrating but brilliant to play with and chew on.”

Ultimately, playing Shiv changed Snook’s perception of herself.

“Because she is wealthy and because she is entitled and because of all these circumstances of her birth, she feels the right to be anywhere,” Snook said. “That’s a really important distinction, often women can come into a room and feel like they’re not necessarily meant to be there but if you just pretend you are and you feel like you are meant to be and for Shiv, that’s like the circumstance of her family and upbringing.”

Snook previously told IndieWire that she was drawn to Shiv’s “indomitable, persistent” determination. Of course, “Succession” also mirrors the current cultural climate.

“Part of that is from the culture of misogyny, I think, pervasively within Waystar and certainly in business. And many businesses at the moment are working hard to change that and have been for many years, with some having more success than others,” Snook summed up. “Shiv is oftentimes one of only a few women in the room, but Gerri [(J. Smith Cameron)] has been there for years and years as the stalwart and the vanguard of that change as well. And I think, perhaps, as a differentiation between the two different feminine approaches, where Gerri perhaps has been more head down, shut up, button up, careful where you’re aligning yourself, but gets to the top still, Shiv might be more vocal and outspoken. And maybe that’s a personality thing or maybe it’s a different kind of feminism thing, but maybe it’s a combination of both.”

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