Name: Sarah Jones
SXSW projects: “Sell/Buy/Date,” which is her directorial debut.
Notable past credits: Jones won a Tony Award for the one-person Broadway show “Bridge & Tunnel.” She’s also known for the stage version of “Sell/Buy/Date.”
First impressions of Austin: “Austin is friendly, so friendly. It’s a different feeling from what I’m used to in New York or L.A. You can feel the mix of energies: the tech people, the film people, the music people and the local energy that is really supportive and happy we’re here.”
“Sell/Buy/Date” is “about women and sex and power and our sexuality and commodification and the sex industry,” Jones summarizes, and the SXSW film is a documentary — sort of — based on her play of the same name. Friends like Rosario Dawson, Ilana Glazer and Bryan Cranston all appear in the film, and none other than Meryl Streep is an executive producer.
“I know, right? Can you tell me — how did that happen?” she says. She’s actually known Streep for several years after meeting via human rights work. “She of course deeply gets it about playing people from different backgrounds and really trying to deeply imbue the character with as much humanity as anyone would want to be portrayed,” Jones says. “I think we really connected on that level and really early on she was like ‘how can I amplify your voice?’ And I was like ‘this would be good!’”
Her friend Laverne Cox was originally set to be part of the film but after initial press was released on the project the internet rose up.
“It was such a fraught conversation about this topic that was public — people were concerned like, ‘you can’t talk about this topic if you don’t have experience in the sex industry yourself.’ It was like, ‘we’re going to cancel you and your movie,’” Jones says. “And Laverne is a deeply sensitive person like me and was like, ‘Sarah, I don’t know if I can deal with all this.’ And I was like, ‘I get it.’ I needed to pick myself up from that and keep moving forward and it’s been so rewarding because it has helped shape the narrative of the film.”
More from SXSW:
Maria Bakalova Makes Her SXSW Debut With Two Films
Lily Sheen Debuts as Nicolas Cage’s Daughter in ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’
Owen Teague Heads to SXSW With a Quiet Drama and Twisty Horror