Article taken from Forbes.
After Regina King won a Golden Globe award this month for her role in the film, If Beale Street Could Talk, she made a vow in her acceptance speech, to equally represent women in everything she produces.
“Being in this business for 30 plus years I am aware that I have gained a certain amount of power. We are also here to make the world a better place for those who aren’t in positions of power and it was my time to step up and exercise my power. You’re not in this space to just be an actor, you know?” says King.
King’s intent behind the public commitment was to break down the barriers that prevent women from accessing opportunities. “It can be difficult to get that first shot, because more men are in positions of power and they are more inclined to give other men an opportunity, rather than women. For me, not only am I a woman, I’m a black woman,” she says.
It is a lot more challenging for women, and particularly women of color to access opportunities in Hollywood. Audiences are twice as likely to see male rather than female characters and Black women only account for 16% of female characters, according to 2017 research by the, Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film.
For King, the pace of change is simply not fast enough, which is why she says leaders need to be intentional about their commitments to gender parity. “We are going to lean on it and make it move. We are not just going to just talk about it. We are seeing situations where women are not getting opportunities so, how do we change that? How do we create the opportunities? Part of it is saying it out loud.”
While making a public vow is one thing, living up to is quite another, which is something King is not shying away from in her own work as a director. “I’ve seen a couple articles that say I’m not being realistic. On our set now both of our camera teams have women on them. It’s not impossible. It’s just not being done. So, I’m going to show you,” says King.
It’s not just about providing access to opportunities, leaders also have to ensure women have the same license to take risks and make mistakes as men do. This is also something that King says she also needs as the first project she undertakes with a gender equal crew will be under tremendous pressure to succeed. Otherwise, King says any failure will be attributed to the number of women on the crew rather than the project.
“Honestly, it won’t have anything to do with why the project fails or wasn’t a success. It will be because it wasn’t the greatest script, marketing or promotion. There’s so many other reasons why a project might not be successful but that’s not what the narrative will be,” she says.
While King doesn’t believe that men are actively working to exclude women, she says they may not always be aware of the changes that need to be made. “A lot of men want to be a part of the change and I think they are starting to listen. What seems obvious to one person is not obvious to the next – often that includes giving a woman that first shot.”
One of the justifications for not hiring women, is the lack of access. King says one way to overcome this is to work with organizations, like Women in Media, who encourage gender balance in the industry by providing women with access to networking, professional development, and advocacy.
When it comes how women can support other women, King’s advice is simple, “Use your voice. Make sure you’re heard. Not only do we have to show up for ourselves but we must show up for the next opportunity that comes for the next woman. I find the most inspiring women I know have all used their voices.”