What the ERA Means to Me: Changing the Face of the Film Industry

By Jessica Grant, NOW Intern

I love movies. I love seeing stories come to life with superb acting, beautiful cinematography, intriguing storylines, and the list goes on. To me movies are much more than entertainment — they are an art form. As a mass communication major, I aspire to one day pursue a career in film, whether it is producing, directing or editing. It is a dream of mine to see my creation on the big screen.

Unfortunately, the film industry is still a male dominated world, but slowly this is changing. Two years ago Katherine Bigelow became the first women to win an Academy Award for best director for her movie “The Hurt Locker.” As a woman, I was very proud watching her receive the Oscar — it was history in the making. However, we still have a long way to go. Last year, women made up just seven percent of the directors of major motion pictures. Furthermore, women accounted for only 18 percent of all editors, 15 percent of executive producers, 10 percent of writers and two percent of cinematographers working on the top 250 films of 2010.

But what does the Equal Rights Amendment have to do with my desire to direct or possibly produce a major motion film? The ERA, once ratified, will guarantee that women and men have equal rights under the law. In this country, the constitution influences people’s actions and ideas to a certain extent. So, if the constitution protects women from discrimination, hopefully that will open the eyes of our male colleagues and influence them to be more supportive of female directors, producers, writers and editors. And it might also open their eyes to women of color and queer women.

Being a triple minority (black, female and queer), it is especially important to me to see different kinds of people direct movies. If film is an art form, why would we want to limit ourselves to only one type of artist? The film industry needs diversity. Of course, the ERA alone isn’t going to change the face of the film industry, but it will hopefully lead studios and producers in the right direction, encouraging them to employ directors, writers and editors of diverse backgrounds. So what does the ERA mean to me? It means the end of sex discrimination and a more diverse workplace.

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