Watch Emma Stone Explain How Playing Billie Jean King Changed Her Life

"Stepping into your shoes, understanding that it is worth it to speak out and express your truth."

You have heard actresses say how tough it is to play a living person when it comes to starring in a biopic. Now imagine how hard it would be to play an actual person, and then have that person ask questions about what it was like playing them onscreen?

That’s what happened when Emma Stone recently sat down to talk about playing tennis legend Billie Jean King in the new film Battle of the Sexes, but King was the one asking the questions.

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In the interview King mentions how Stone is an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community, and then asks her how playing one of the most famous lesbians in the world, inspired her advocacy work.

“To play you and know that you can be going through so much and there can be struggle within… and you can still use your voice to affect positive change in the world,” Stone answered.

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“The power of one voice, if you can use your voice to affect positive change you can make a difference. That’s how its affected me. Stepping into your shoes, understanding that it is worth it to speak out and express your truth,” she says in the video interview. “I know how scary that can be, but it is so important to find the people in your life who love you exactly as who you are and use that strength to use your voice.”
 

Stone portrays King, who at the time of the match was married to a man, but came out as gay in 1981, becoming the first prominent female athlete to do so. She has also been an outspoken advocate for for LGBT rights and for women in sports, arguing for equal pay for female players and founding the Women’s Tennis Association in 1973.

“Emma trained like an action hero,” said director Jonathon Dayton on the filming of the movie.

“She felt so much responsibility to Billie Jean,” added co-director Valerie Faris.

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At last year’s Trailblazer Honors Stone saluted the out tennis legend at the awards ceremony.

“When I began preparing for the role, Billie invited me to play some tennis,” Stone recalled. “Let me be clear about something, I was a complete novice, I’d had three lessons and she, on the other hand, is one of the greatest players of all time so, a fair match it was not.”

“What I lacked in tennis skills I hope I made up for in my ability to connect with [King’s] essence and understand the greater lesson of what she was saying: ’Let go of the negative, stay open and positive. The next ball might just be a good one.’ That’s something Billie has lived by her entire life.”
 

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