Actress Noel Wells on Hollywood's 'system that shuts down women faster than it does men'

Noel Wells joins Rebecca Jarvis on "No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis."

January 24, 2018, 4:13 AM

— -- Noel Wells set out for Los Angeles from Austin to launch a career in Hollywood, but ended up finding initial success from a YouTube clip she posted online instead.

“Some blog picked it up and it got over 100,000 views and that was insane," Wells told Rebecca Jarvis, ABC News' Chief Business, Technology & Economics Correspondent, during "No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis on ABC Radio. "And then my manager found it, so that kind of started my journey.”

Wells, 31, continued, "I think when you are a creative person, your creative voice will sort of rise out of whatever people’s ideas are about what the internet is."

Wells remembers the early days in Hollywood as "all hustle," telling Jarvis that her time was spent auditioning, editing for the comedy website, and working at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles.

Wells' hustle led her further into the entertainment industry, also coming face-to-face with the pay gap between men and women. She recalled working as a featured extra on a commercial getting paid $350 for a 12-hour day. In comparison, the male extras were paid $1,000.

Wells told Jarvis, "If you’re trying to fight for more money, or to have a certain level in credits ... It’s this whole system that shuts down women faster than it does men."

Wells said that the recent wave of sexual harassment allegations in Hollywood feels like "a level of freedom that I’ve never experienced before."

Wells took the reins for the film "Mr. Roosevelt," a comedy released in November that she wrote, directed, and starred in. Her decision to direct the film came from a desire to "bring out the best in people," but also to offer her unique perspective as a female director.

“You have to have that perspective of knowing what it’s like to exist as this other gender to be able to bring it to life," she said. "Otherwise it’s always going to be filtered through some fantasy version of what being a woman is like.”

From posting her first video online to building "Mr. Roosevelt" from the ground up, Wells has crafted her own Hollywood experience. "For me, every tangent I’ve ever taken has informed where I’m currently at," she said. "And I would never remove any of that."

Hear more of Noel Wells’ interview on this week’s episode of “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis” available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play Music, Spotify, TuneIn and the ABC News app.

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