3 Things Reese Witherspoon Is Doing For Women In Film

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In November of 2015, Reese Witherspoon got on stage at Glamour’s Women of The year Gala and gave an electrifying speech about her success as a new film producer in Hollywood. She detailed adversity and frustration she faced as a part of the under-represented gender in film. The most irritating thing for her to see as she was reading through scripts and preparing for roles was the line where the woman turns to the male lead and asks, “what do we do now?”

This classic line was infuriating because of the plain fact that women are more equipped to operate in a high stress situation. Reese pointed out in her speech that children are taught to go to a woman and ask for help when they find themselves in a crisis. The entertainment industry is dictated by white males producing films about white males. Reese set out to change the Hollywood producer demographic and typical movie narrative to spark equal gender representation by creating Pacific Standard.

Here are three important things Pacific Standard  is doing for women in the entertainment industry.

1.     Demanding women have equal representation.

Pacific Standard Films is on a mission to create content with women at the center. In her speech, Witherspoon detailed filming one of her first movies and realizing that not one member of the crew was female. She writes in a letter for Cosmopolitan, “There were no women in the crew: Maybe a girl or two in the wardrobe department, but no one in any other department. I was literally surrounded by 150 men.” With her company, she is changing the way a movie crew looks. Cast and crew for Pacific Standard Films are mostly women, creating a work environment where women do not feel like a minority.

2.     Providing opportunities for female artists.

In these films, the women do so much more than ask a man, “what do we do now?” Pacific Standard created both Gone Girl and Wild with primarily female casts and crews.  Both films had equal gendered audiences who gave raving reviews and received many nominations proving men like stories about dynamic women too. Reese proclaims, “These stories work!” Women are underrepresented in most fields. Underrepresentation leads to the wrong healthcare being implemented, no paid leave, and no access to early childhood education. These rights can’t possibly be applied until equal representation is common. Pacific Standard offers opportunity for women to step into important roles and get the benefits they need, as well as putting women with ambitious careers and stories on screen.

3.     Proclaiming ambition is a good thing.

Reese stated, “I believe ambition is not a dirty word.” This is absolutely correct, but tricky for women. This Harvard study shows that single female M.B.A. students downplayed their career ambitions in front of male classmates for fear of possibly hurting their marriage prospects. When Reese was the only female on set with 150 men it had to have been daunting, otherwise she would not have noted it. But for women in a place of business, ambition comes off as bossy. As a type A woman myself, I know that bossy is a loaded term and your peers are much less likely to cooperate with you. Here is a campaign by the female CEO of facebook, Sheryl Sanberg, that unpacks the word “bossy” for us.

sophia cleugh