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Hollywood has been implementing new tactics for sex scenes over the last few years. One of the key changes has happened behind the scenes, with the hiring of intimacy coordinators. Back in 2018, HBO execs began hiring intimacy coordinators for all of their shows. The goal was to make sets more comfortable for actors filming sex scenes. Recently, Scandal vet Kerry Washington, Shrill’s Aidy Bryant and more revealed how they felt about working with intimacy coordinators on set and how it intersected with their jobs as producers.
Kerry Washington, Insecure’s Issa Rae, The Morning Show’s Reese Witherspoon and a plethora of other actresses have added the job of producer to their already impressive resumes. As such, they were far more involved with the making of their shows than they would have been otherwise. These responsibilities included the hiring of intimacy coordinators and working with them as both actors and producers. When working on Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere, Washington explained why she felt it was important to bring on an intimacy coordinator. Here’s what she told THR:
I was really grateful for an intimacy coordinator because in my scenes with people, I never wanted the other actor to feel like they couldn't say, 'Don't touch me there' or 'Don't do that' because I was the producer, right? I didn't want the actor in the scene with me to feel like he couldn't have a voice because his love scene was with the producer. I felt like the intimacy coordinator was almost there for him more than they were there for me — but also for me.
It sounds pertinent for any TV set to include a third party during sex scenes, if only to even the playing field and make it so everyone feels they have a voice in the matter. I’m sure sex scenes can be very awkward to film and it seems that having an intimacy coordinator makes for a better experience all around.
Meanwhile, actress and producer Aidy Bryant hired an intimacy coordinator for Shrill Season 2 to oversee sex scenes between Bryant and her co-star Luca Jones. The Saturday Night Live star says that she wouldn’t have thought to do a sex scene at all without an intimacy coordinator and having the say of a producer. In her words:
I don't know if I would have ever dipped my foot into that area if I couldn't have also been a producer in the mix — even when it comes to hiring directors who I think will be thoughtful and who I can communicate what we expect. Just creatively talking with the directors about like, 'Here's what we're trying to convey story-wise with the sex scene, and so let that be the focus rather than nasty panning body shots.' All of our sex scenes are very story-motivated rather than just steamy-motivated, and even being able to vocalize that point of view, I don't know if I could do that as just an actor.
Hiring an intimacy coordinator was also incredibly important to Issa Rae, whose first sex scene happened on Insecure, the HBO show where she serves as producer, creator, and lead actress. While she’s happy that it happened “on her own terms,” hiring an intimacy coordinator ensured that the sex scenes were up to the “standards” of the actors.
In addition, Dickinson’s Hailee Steinfeld added that being an actor-turned-producer gave her the power to ensure that her fellow actors felt secure during sex scenes. Here’s what she said:
That's an advantage, knowing exactly how they're feeling as an actor, understanding my fellow castmates and being able to have a certain level of power as a producer to where I can help them either be more comfortable or more secure in what we're shooting.
Of course, not everyone is a fan of working with intimacy coordinators during sex scenes. Big Little Lies star Shailene Woodley has said that intimacy coordinators make her “uncomfortable.” However, she did say that they were a “wonderful” resource for actors to “lean on to know they’ll be protected.” All that said, it’s good that intimacy coordinators are becoming a normalized addition to TV and film sets.