‘LADY BOSS’ DIRECTOR TALKS ABOUT JACKIE COLLINS AND HER STYLE

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Jackie Collins

Jackie Collins created a literary empire and attracted millions of fans with her stories of empowered women who successfully navigate the world of the “rich and famous.” They had fabulous hair, fabulous sex, and fabulous lives.

Critics hated Collins’ novels, dismissing the author as “the queen of trash.” But that’s deeply unfair. Books like “Hollywood Wives,” “Lady Boss” and “The Stud” helped define a certain kind of 20th-century feminism, one that saw Collins’ heroines thriving in board rooms, backlots, and executive suites, spaces that had previously been dominated by men.

Lady Boss: The Jackie Collins Story,” a new documentary from CNN Films, traces the author’s career and meteoric rise to the top of the best-seller lists, while also revealing the personal struggles that shaped her work. To tell that intimate story, director Laura Fairrie drew on Collins’ home videos and diaries, and interviewed her children, close friend, and sister, Joan Collins, a legend in her own right. “Lady Boss” airs June 27 at 9 p.m. on CNN. Fair spoke  about what attracted her to the project and why the private Jackie Collins was different from the public image she cultivated.

Were you a fan of Jackie Collins’ books?

Jackie Collins

She was my sex education as a teenager. Her books were passed around in school, and we’d read them sort of hidden in our lessons. What was intriguing about the idea of making a film about Jackie Collins was I knew the woman on the back of the book cover — big hair, shoulder pads. But my immediate instinct as a filmmaker was, what’s the story behind that image?

Was the private Jackie Collins all that different from her public persona?

The private Jackie Collins stood in such opposition to that public image. I went through her extensive archives, to start finding the layers and find the woman whose story is universal. Her storytelling is brilliant. You get swept along in the stories. But also there’s this wonderful combination of this fantasy. She imagined the world that she wanted to inhabit as a woman. She imagined the female characters that she’d like to be. But it’s also grounded in reality. She took her own experiences. She took the tough times that she observed other women having and her mother having and she put that all in her books, but then she changed the endings to be what she wanted. There’s always a brilliant imaginary ending where the women come out on top of the tables get turned or the men get their comeuppance. I think women enjoyed that aspect of her books. It’s grounded in reality but there’s a fantasy element as well.

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Was the private Jackie Collins all that different from her public persona?

The private Jackie Collins stood in such opposition to that public image. I went through her extensive archives, to start finding the layers and find the woman whose story is universal. Her storytelling is brilliant. You get swept along in the stories. But also there’s this wonderful combination of this fantasy. She imagined the female characters that she’d like to be. But it’s also grounded in reality. She took her own experiences. She took the tough times that she observed other women having and her mother having and she put that all in her books, but then she changed the endings to be what she wanted. There’s always a brilliant imaginary ending where the women come out on top of the tables get turned or the men get their comeuppance.

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