These words are hot topics of discussion in the entertainment industry lately. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that Hollywood has a huge diversity & inclusion problem. Our media is supposed to represent the extremely diverse society we live in, yet far less than half of American TV and film is created by people who don’t identify as white or male.
The Media, Diversity & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism calls this an #InclusionCrisis. Their newest study shows that,
“Behind the camera, female directors were just 4.1% of those hired on the 800 films evaluated between 2007 and 2015 (excluding 2011). Women of color were almost absent from these ranks, with just 3 Black or African-American females and 1 Asian female in the director’s chair. Overall, directors from underrepresented racial groups fared poorly. Only 5.5% of the 886 directors examined were Black or African American and 2.8% were Asian or Asian American.”
A common excuse I hear for this #InclusionCrisis is that executives “can’t find” women creatives (up-and-coming and seasoned veterans) to hire for work.
Well, I’m here to give them a shout; loud and proud! Here are 10 stand-out, creative women in Hollywood we should ALL be paying attention to.
P.S. It was actually extremely hard to narrow my list down to 10 because there are actually so many to choose from. (Here’s a list of 90 more women where these came from.)
1. Ava DuVernay
Ava is the director of Selma, I Will Follow and Middle of Nowhere. Her newest production, OWN TV’s Queen Sugar (television show), was created in collaboration with Oprah Winfrey. She is the first black woman to direct a film nominated for Best Picture (Selma) and the founder of ARRAY; a distribution company geared toward female filmmakers and people of color.
2. Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen is an actress and well-seasoned television director (countless episodes over nearly 30 years). Recently, she directed episodes of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy (where she also appears as a character in a recurring role).
3. Elizabeth Banks
Elizabeth is the producer of Pitch Perfect, both the first and the sequel (as well as acting in it as a cappella commentator, Gail). Rightfully so, Universal Studios hired her to direct the upcoming third Pitch Perfect. She’s also said to be working on a Charlie’s Angels reboot.
4. So Yong Kim
So Yong is a writer-director who’s made 3 drama films: In Between Days, Treeless Mountain and For Ellen. She picked up a Special Jury Prize at Sundance for her first film, In Between Days, about a Korean girl navigating immigrant life in Canada.
5. Gurinder Chadha
Gurinder directed Bend It Like Beckham, helping to launch the careers of many actors (like Keira Knightley, Parminder Nagra, and Archie Panjabi). She also directed British film, Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging, which raised the profile of Aaron Taylor-Johnson. She’s currently working on an animated DreamWorks musical about Bollywood.
6. Martha Coolidge
Martha is the ONLY female president in the history of the Directors Guild of America. With a few decades of working in the industry, she’s also directed a plethora of interesting films like: Real Genius, Valley Girl, Rambling Rose and Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.
7. Anne Fletcher
Ann Fletcher revitalized Sandra Bullock’s acting career in 2009 by directing romantic-comedy, The Proposal (which gave Bullock her biggest success ever at the time). She also helped put Channing Tatum on the map by directing the first Step Up film.
8. Julie Taymor
Julie directed a huge (over $6-billion-gross-huge) musical stage production of Disney’s The Lion King. She’s also directed content about some of the world’s most iconic artists: 3 Shakespeare adaptations, a Beatles musical, an Oscar-nominated biopic of Frida Kahlo
9. Dee Rees
Dee is the writer and director of Pariah; a refreshing “coming-out” story about a young black lesbian in Brooklyn, NY (Adepero Oduye). She also directed the recent HBO mini-series, Bessie (starring Queen Latifah).
10. Gina Prince-Bythewood
Gina is the director of 2014’s highly-underrated Beyond the Lights, The Secret Life of Bees, and the 2000 classic romance film Love & Basketball. She has also written several episodes of the iconic American TV show “A Different World.”
And there we have it. 10 women creatives who definitely deserve seats in the director’s chair for Hollywood’s blockbusters.
Learn their faces and their accolades. Bring these directors up in conversation. Share this list with a friend. If we shout out these incredible women loud and long enough, Hollywood will have to listen.