1st Annual Alliance of Women Directors Awards & Benefit at The Paley Center for Media took place in Hollywood last night and Empire‘s Ilene Chaiken as well as Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow‘s Greg Berlanti spoke about female directors. We wanted to share some of their inspiring words.
Greg Berlanti, who called his mother one of his first producers talked about finding female directors for the CW shows. He said, “When we started making Arrow and working on many of the DC shows we have now, we found a similar dilemma. The lists of female and diverse directors that had done action on TV was not nearly as long as it should be – but in this instance, I have to say that the studio and network were our partners— everyone was in agreement—our directors needed to be as balanced as the writing staff, and the actors, and the stories we were telling. Not just because it was the RIGHT THING TO DO—diversity isn’t a burden—IT’S SMART BUSINESS—it actually makes the shows better and more successful. New and different voices make for better storytelling.
“This year, after three years of commitment to growing our numbers and our lists, our most veteran action show—Arrow—will have 50 PERCENT of their episodes directed by either diverse or female directors—with our other series not far behind. I have no doubt that many of these directors will then have the material they need to convince film studios they’re the right woman to be directing the tentpole films the studios are making these days. Obviously, we haven’t done enough yet, I haven’t done enough yet, this needs to keep happening until it’s no longer a conversation—it’s just a way of life.
“Everyone needs to be doing what they can, even if they feel like it’s not much, I promise you it is. I thought with Arrow—“Well, what can I do? This is the way it is.”—and then we all decided to do something—and it’s changing. I would advise every director or producer with experience to pick one or two younger female directors to vouch for and mentor—call producers like me, call executives—make a recommendation and let’s keep the lists growing!
“We owe it to our mothers and sisters and women who influenced us, to create an equal workplace in Hollywood. We owe it to our audience and we owe it to ourselves. It will make all of us better!”
Chaiken talked about the issues in Hollywood right now and the progress we’ve made. She said, “I’m further…inspired to see such an accomplished group of women coming together in solidarity to support and promote and advocate for more women directors to have equal opportunities, equal access, equal compensation, equal voice and equal representation alongside those male director colleagues with whom we equally share the planet.
“It’s probably accurate to say that almost every single woman that works in our business has encountered institutional sexism in one form or another. We’ve found a host of ways to endure and navigate, but we’ve all got stories. Right? We’ve made gains over the years, but we’ve also backslid. It’s a much-reported fact that the most recent statistics are grim. Maybe it’s progress that some of the behavior that was once rampant is no longer tolerated, and some of the most overt rhetoric now has to be toned down or delivered with subterfuge. But it would be an understatement to say that women still face obstacles to achieving equality.
“In this last year, though, something new and promising is happening. Women and our male allies are coming together everywhere and talking about gender inequality in a way that we really haven’t before, and vowing to correct it. The conversation has been widespread and pervasive, and in Hollywood, where folks have often been accused of promoting an agenda, that broader cultural conversation is out ahead of us, in some cases actually leading the way for industry activism.
‘Tonight, I feel in good company saying I have an agenda. Personally I have a bunch of them. A gay agenda. An inclusiveness agenda. The Alliance of Women Directors is one of the best things that’s happened for my most cherished agenda, the one I believe is the most important – full and total equality for women. It’s an agenda that I inherited from my mother, that I share with my wife, and that I’ll pass on to my daughters. I’m grateful to AWD for including me tonight, and for staking such a powerful and undeniable claim on our path to equality.”
I thought this might inspire you as well, Legion! Leave us your thoughts in the comments!