Get Out: Why I Had to See It (At Least) Twice!

Get Out director,  Jordan Peele, developed a thought-provoking script and crafted a suspenseful thriller wrapped in powerful social commentary. I can’t say it enough, but if you haven’t seen it, you should see it! If you’ve only seen it once, make sure you grab it on DVD in May and share with a friend!


As someone who has dedicated their career to working on issues and creating messages that positively impact women, girls, and families, seeing this movie was a must. What I found was an experience and story that left me speechless, humbled, and tremendously grateful for every word. This film brilliantly brings to life the unsettling realities and complex effects of racism in America. It touches on so many social issues of family, society, and culture that I’m still thinking about it (and talking about it constantly with my husband)!


Here’s why you should see it a few times:


  1. Shortly after its’ release, Get Out has become the highest-grossing movie ever for a feature debut for a writer/director of an original screenplay. Patronizing great films gives room and resources for more great films to hit the box office!
  2. Seeing a suspenseful thriller that also has a strong comedic timing is a rarity! This movie will surprise you with elements that normally go unseen in blockbuster thrillers.   
  3. It’s a great opportunity to just listen in. With so much noise in our political climate, we need the chance to listen to necessary, yet sometimes overlooked perspectives. Through Get Out, Jordan presents a unique point-of-view on a very specific cultural experience through a multidimensional lens that can resonate with any viewer.
  4. Full of subliminal messages, it’s impossible to catch everything the first time. A second viewing offers a deeper look and listening of messages concerning race, relationships, family, culture, and society to name a few.
  5. It adds more concrete proof that stories produced and directed by people of color are profitable for the entertainment industry in more ways than one.

There’s so much to unpack from Get Out, and I can’t wait to see Jordan Peele’s next project!

2016 Saw The Most Inclusive Emmys Ever (But There’s Still Work To Do)

Sunday night, The 68th Primetime Emmy awards honored the best of American TV from this past year. From the Emmy presenters to the actual award recipients, The 2016 Emmys were the most diverse and inclusive celebration entertainment has seen yet.


Anyone tuned-in to The Emmys was sure to notice the bold presence of women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community. We saw names like Sterling K. Brown, Courtney B. Vance and Rami Malek take Emmys for their lead and supporting acting roles. Jordan Peele and Michael Keegan-Key won awards for Outstanding Comedy Variety Series (and many more behind-the-screen) for “Key & Peele.” Regina King reached out to share a touching moment with fellow Black actress Taraji P. Henson (Cookie from “Empire”) as she gracefully walked to the stage to accept her award for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie in “American Crime.” And although she didn’t receive the Emmy award, Tracee Ellis-Ross made history as the first Black woman in 30 years to be nominated for lead actress in a comedy series for “Black-ish.” Not one, but two female directors went home with Emmys; Susanne Bier for “The Night Manager” and Jill Soloway for “Transparent.”


Soloway accepted her award with a powerful speech that spoke to the world-changing impact of taking women, people of color, trans people and queer people, and putting them at the center of the story, making them subjects instead of objects. She ended her speech with an unforgettable closing statement,

“We need to stop violence against transgender woman and topple the patriarchy! Topple the patriarchy!”

Actor Jeffrey Tambor, who plays a trans character in “Transparent”, proclaimed that, he “he hopes to be the last cis gender actor to win an Emmy award for playing a trans character.” Leslie Jones addressed her experience with sexual assault and cyber bullying head-on, making light of it through a joke of course.


A majority of the award presenters we saw on our screens were women and/or people of color such as Constance Wu, Damon Wayans, Kerry Washington, Aziz Ansari, Laverne Cox, America Ferrera, Anthony Anderson and Leslie Jones. This year, 24.6% of the acting nominations went to non-white actors, an increase from last year’s ceremony. (That still falls behind the approximately 28.3% of speaking characters on television who were black, Latino, Asian or Middle Eastern in 2015, according to a USC Annenberg report released in 2016.)


Time Magazine’s “diversity roundup” of the Emmys breaks down the progress. While this on-screen representation was a monumental step forward for the entertainment industry, this momentum should continue building and create more intersectionality behind the camera. Many news recaps are showcasing the diversity of The Emmys, but the primetime awards show doesn’t highlight the winners from “other” categories.


One place where the Emmys are still lacking diversity and inclusion is behind the screens in the director’s chairs and on production crews. Explore many of the non-primetime categories; there are few cases of minority team members winning an award. In 2015–16, women comprised 26% of creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography working on broadcast network, cable, and streaming programs. This represents an increase of 1 percentage point from 25% in 2014–15, and no change from 26% in 2012–13 (from the Boxed In 2015–16 report by Center for the Study of Women in Television & Film, San Diego State University). In the 2015–16 season, 153 directors who had never worked in episodic television were hired by employers (studios, networks, and executive producers) — 15% were ethnic minorities, and 23% were women (DGA Study: Women and Ethnic Minorities Continue to be Overlooked for Critical First Breaks in Television Directing). The study also revealed that 81% (619) of all first-time episodic directors during a seven-year span (2009–16) were male and only 19% (144) were female; 86% (656) were Caucasian while just 14% (107) were minority directors.


This data presents a huge wake-up call to the entertainment industry in the way that stories are being written and told, and also for the investment the industry is making in developing minority talent. Directors like Ava DuVernay and Jill Soloway make it a priority in their process to hire diverse production crews for “Queen Sugar” and “Transparent,” respectively.


At the 68th Emmy Awards, Aziz Ansari and writer Alan Yang accepted theOutstanding Writing for a Comedy Series award for Master of None episode “Parents.” In his acceptance speech, Yang reminded us of the harsh truth that there are just as many Asian-Americans as there are Italian-Americans, yet they Italian-Americans have The Godfather, Goodfellas, Rocky; Asian-Americans have no representation. He assured to all Asian-American parents watching that,


“If a couple of them [Asian-American parents], get cameras for their children instead of violins, we’ll be all good.”

While Yang delivered this bit of advice in a humorous tone, there is a lot of truth to his statement. The earlier people are exposed to storytelling professions in our entertainment and media industry, the sooner they explore interests and talents. What’s the best way to impress a young person? Through a combination of exposure from media representation and personal conversation.


But on the other hand, it’s appropriate to shed light on the fact that many industry executives are simply afraid of adding color to the old white canvas. But it’s time to do a very courageous thing called “getting over fears” for the sake of humanity. All people of all ethnicities, genders, abilities, sizes and ages deserve equality and truthful depiction, especially in America. Now more than ever, there’s a critical need for more representation in mixed media images. There’s a need to amplify more media that will inspire, inform and ultimately create the sparks of connectivity among people around the world. The storytellers of media are the authors of culture.


Looking back in history, this moment, The 68th Emmys, will be remembered as a peak in the journey of the fight for equality. For those optimistic about change, rightfully so. But there is still a long way to go before our true cultural representation has been lifted.


America Ferrera appeared on stage to present an award, but there were no Latinos nominated for any category across the board; on-screen or off. Yang and Ansari were two of the few minorities to win an award for a role behind the camera of a television production. Shout-out to Will Smith for winning the Outstanding Comedy Series award as a Co-Executive producer for “Veep.” Other than them, Key and Peele, and Asian-American dance crew, Quest Crew, for Outstanding Choreography, television industry minorities making things happen behind the screen continue to appear on the Emmy award-winning list (and nominees) few and far between.


And it’s not that the minorities qualified for these jobs don’t exist. Hollywood has to do a better job at intentionally opening the doors and supporting development for minorities when it comes to hiring, storytelling and marketing our content. These stories matter, too.


10 Creative Women In Hollywood You Should Be Following







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.