Through both SAG-AFTRA and WIF I got email invites for an event that Netflix was hosting this past weekend that featured the women of Netflix shows. The event was a luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire hotel and since the luncheon technically didn’t start until noon, I figured I should accept the invite because my work shift would be ending at 11am that day (I don’t miss work to attend events so I do miss out on a bunch).
There was free valet for attendees at the hotel, but it was so packed that it almost took me 30 minutes to get into the valet area and get out of my car! Fortunately, the pre-reception was still going on when I arrived so I checked in at the front, got my table number, and headed inside the room where the event was.
I had never been inside the Beverly Wilshire before, so I was so impressed by the space and the set up in the room. There was a bar for drinks, but I ended up spending my time before the luncheon started looking for friends of mine. Fortunately, since there were invites from a couple of different organizations I ended up knowing quite a few people there. Most of them were people I knew from the SAG-AFTRA convention because they were there representing the union at the luncheon.
At noon we were instructed to go to our tables and sit down so the presentation and lunch could start. At each of our seats, we had a card that on one side had the people who would be speaking and on the other side the menu of the lunch.
I knew who would be there speaking ahead of time because it was on the invite for the event, but I was still so excited to hear everyone speak. The panel was done in 2 segments and each woman there shared a bit of her story and a bit about how she feels about being a rebel. Being a rebel in the entertainment industry can mean so many things, and each of them had such a wonderful viewpoint. I loved hearing about how women are afraid not to be polite so they don’t try for things or ask things that might be a bit bold. While women shouldn’t worry about always being polite, there’s no need to not be gracious. Being polite and gracious are different things, and I never thought about that.
I’ve always been scared to not be polite, so this was really hitting home for me. I know I’ve been paid less than my co-workers because I didn’t want to see rude or pushy to ask for a raise. I’ve been treated badly at day jobs because I didn’t want to make a fuss and tell HR that I’m being harassed. I’ve tolerated guys saying pretty bad things to be because I didn’t want them to think I wasn’t being nice because I’ve heard far too many stories of women being shot or attacked by men after they reject them (because to some men, rejection is rude and women shouldn’t do it).
I had already been making strides to being more bold in the past. More recently, I’ve been very outspoken about friends that I’ve wanted to work on projects with. The short film I’ll be starring in soon is because on a phone call with my friend Christopher I said that I was mad that he and I hadn’t worked on a project yet. He said he didn’t have anything that fit me, but next thing I knew our short film was written and now we are in pre-production. I’m going to be in another short film this year because when a friend mentioned that they were working on getting it to pre-production I asked what part there is for me. That isn’t the nicest way to ask, but it was effective and I’ll be playing a small part in that film now.
This entire luncheon was so empowering and really got me thinking about how I need to work on finding the balance between being polite (which is what I’ve been told I have to be) and being pushy (which is what I need to be to help further my career). I don’t have the answer on what that balance should be, but honestly I hadn’t been working hard enough in the past on this to make it work for me. I’m so inspired by what all these women said at this luncheon. I know that if I make a couple of small changes in how I interact with others (and how I network) that it can be a huge impact in the auditions I’m getting and the parts that are being offered to me.
The panel part of the luncheon was only about an hour or so long and after it was done we all were told to head back up to where the pre-reception was for desserts and drinks. I was able to find more of my friends at that point and I think all of us were equally inspired by what we heard (both men and women were at the event and I only heard very positive things from everyone).
We know that diversity is more than just women, but getting more women filmmakers and having women’s stories told in film and tv is important. Just this week, a pilot for a new tv show was rejected because it skewed too female. That’s is horrible. I’ve never heard of a pilot being rejected because it was too male. There’s also all the hatred that I don’t understand toward the all-female “Ghostbusters” movie. Some people don’t think that women need to look up to other women or are complaining that men have nobody to relate to in that movie (there are male characters and if they have to watch an all-male cast they can watch the original movie). And some people think that while women will watch shows about men, men won’t watch them about women. This has been proven wrong by movies like “Bridesmaids” that have been big successes.
These are all attitudes that need to change in order for more women to be writing projects, directing projects, and playing characters that are no just the girlfriend or the pretty one to look at. I feel like this change has started, but there are so many voices speaking negatively regarding gender diversity in film and tv (who want to keep it male centric) and I hope that those people will see that putting more women in front or behind the camera will not diminish men but will in fact create more projects that everyone can be in.