Alysia Reiner has been typecast in Hollywood as a “strong woman,” and she really is just that. But on the heels of founding production company Broad Street Pictures with her producing partner Sarah Megan Thomas, the actress has added something unexpected to her resume (which includes her role as Natalie “Fig” Figueroa in Orange is the New Black). In Broad Street Pictures’ first feature film, Equity, Reiner stars opposite Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) and Thomas in the suspense-thriller as Samantha, a truth-seeking U.S. Attorney who, amongst a sea of ruthless Wall Street players, seems to wear the white hat.
Equity’s story was destined to be authentic and accurate. At least more authentic than the stories that usually depict a financial world as one imagines it in films like The Wolf of Wall Street. “It’s not all about greed and Wall Street being evil, which is every other movie,” says Reiner. Along with director Meera Menon and screenwriter Amy Fox, she did just that. “We wanted to portray three different women coming from three different perspectives,” Reiner explained. “We didn’t want to just make a chick-flick.”
The storyline isn’t the only aspect lifted from the skyscrapers of the financial district. The film’s process began with its own road show helmed by Candy Straight, former investment banker and Equity’s executive producer, and her Rolodex. A sizzle-reel, PowerPoint presentation and many pitches later, Reiner pulled in some investors.
“They saw their stories being told, and there’s something magical when you tell someone’s story. These women also knew that this film was a very high-risk investment, but they saw that we were businesswomen as well as artists.”
One young banker was so inspired by Equity’s story that she independently reached out to Reiner’s manager and immediately put down six figures. This is a film about power players, after all, but it isn’t a man’s world.
“The parts about women, we just wanted to be there,” says Reiner. “For example, in the film I’m a lesbian and I’m married to an African-American woman. We never talked about that, that just is.”
A reoccurring theme in the film is sacrifice—specifically, what people have to give up for their careers. Reiner can identify with that, but she has no regrets. “Had I not made this movie and the last five years of my career, I may have had more than one child, but I think that my truth, sitting where I sit at this moment, is you can have it all. Sometimes you just can’t have it all at once. There are aspects for a woman to not be able to have it all, but I think that’s true of men too. I think we have to trust that nobody has it all.”
Although if anyone does come close to “having it all,” one could argue it’s Alysia Reiner. Aside from currently shooting Whitney Cumming’s latest project, The Female Brain, Reiner joins Louis C.K.’s newest show Better Things, and she has a guest arc on Showtime’s Masters of Sex, both to premiere in September.
Equity premieres Friday, July 29th in New York and Los Angeles, and nationwide in August.