Constance Zimmer Shares Real-Life Inspiration of Her 'UnREAL' Character and Talks Gender Bias

During THR's annual Drama Actress Roundtable, the TV actress discusses how women are empowered by working on her Lifetime hit.

Constance Zimmer, the lead actress on Lifetime’s UnREAL and winner of this year’s Critics' Choice award for her performance, has been told that her character Quinn, a pseudo-sociopathic reality TV producer, exists in the real world. “It's terrifying to me,” says Zimmer of UnREAL’s supposed basis in reality. One of the show’s creators, Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, used to work as a producer on The Bachelor, and UnREAL is rumored to be based on her experience on the show. “I kind of liked believing she was just this kind of character I made up based on like 10 different people.”

Zimmer confessed she has definitely worked with producers who share Quinn’s traits but, “weirdly enough, in more males than females," adding, “The males can get away with it.” But that's why it's been fun to play this character, she says, because she is “allowed to get away with what men get away with.”

Zimmer said UnREAL is very female-centric, and “driven toward [women] being empowered and the men not being empowered.” She continued: “There’s definitely a difference with female showrunners and writers. We have two female leads. We have four female directors out of 10 episodes.

“I’ve always been fortunate to play super strong women. I did always think, 'Oh yeah, I can do this.' And then I play those girls and I’m like, 'OK, I am so not.' I, like, clearly have issues. That’s all it’s taught me, is that I have issues," said the actress in regards to what she has learned from playing women who are so different to her.

There aren't too many lines Zimmer won't cross. Her deepest desire is to make sense of her work, her life and to tell the stories she wants to tell. “I think nowadays, it’s all about trying to make sense of it and making it work for you as the actor to tell the appropriate stories,” she said.

More roundtables featuring comedy actresses, comedy and drama actors and reality hosts and producers will roll out throughout June in print and online. Tune in to new episodes of Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter starting June 26 on SundanceTV. And look for clips at THR.com/roundtables starting May 16, with full episodes on THR.com after broadcast.

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