Over the past several years, Dr. Stacy Smith has focused on developing and disseminating solutions to inequality on screen and behind the camera. These practical, theory- and data-driven ideas can be implemented by individuals and companies. You can read about these solutions in the concluding sections of our most recent Annenberg Inclusion Initiative reports. You can also watch Dr. Smith’s TED Talk, and learn more about her solutions by reading Dr. Smith's 2014 opinion piece in The Hollywood Reporter.
You can read more about our solutions in our reports Inequality in 900 Popular Films, Inequality in 800 Popular Films (2015) and The CARD Report (executive summary) (full report). Also, see below for a summary of simple ways to tackle ongoing media inequities.
Just Add Five
If screenwriters simply added 5 female speaking characters to each film in the top 100 each year, we could reach gender parity in four years. Learn more about how this works in Dr. Smith's opinion piece at The Wrap.
Are you a writer? Do you know a writer? Encourage them to add 5 female characters to their scripts. You can also ask producers, casting directors, assistant directors, and directors—anyone who plays a creative role in filmmaking to do the same.
And: make sure those female characters are from diverse backgrounds, identify as LGBT, or are performers with disabilities. We can improve media inclusion for many groups by just adding 5 females.
A-List Equity Rider
Another of Dr. Smith’s solutions is for A-list talent to add an equity rider to their contract. This clause would ask for the film’s cast to match the demography of where the story is set. This way, even small parts can reflect reality. But even if you’re not an A-list actor (like most of us), you can help. Use the tools at your disposal—the social media tools—to reach out to your favorite actors and demand that they take action, too. Here’s a list of sample tweets or posts you can use. Be sure to tag or mention an actor!
- How to end Hollywood’s epidemic of invisibility: @ACTOR adds an #EquityRider to his/her contract. Ask @Inclusionists how to make progress now.
- Hey @ACTOR! Will you add an #EquityRider to your contract to end Hollywood’s epidemic of invisibility? @Inclusionists can tell you how.
- If @ACTOR adds an #EquityRider to his/her contract, equality in media could actually happen. @Inclusionists can help.
A Rooney Rule for Hollywood
What’s the Rooney Rule? The NFL adopted the Rooney Rule to help diversify head coaching positions across the league. Teams agree to interview at least one underrepresented candidate for an open outside hire. Hollywood producers and executives can do this when they create consideration lists or interview for open directing jobs. Based on Annenberg Inclusion Initiative research, Dr. Smith has developed a list of women who have worked across independent and top grossing films. Across 10 years and 1,000 films, 35 women have worked as a director on top-grossing movies.
If you’re an aspiring or working director, you can visit The Director List to add your name to their incredible database of women working behind the camera. Or, join the Film Fatales, a grassroots group of female directors supporting each other.
Be An Active Audience Member
In her TED Talk, Dr. Smith says that if we want more stories by, for, and about women, we have to support them. It can sometimes be difficult to find these films to support.
If you’re an audience member, follow @Inclusionists on Twitter or Facebook to see info on what’s coming to theaters. Be on the lookout for projects and films we’re watching and supporting.
If you’re a philanthropist or want to financially support filmmakers, check out groups like Seed & Spark, as well as Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, GoFundMe and other platforms.
There are lots of ways to support female filmmakers and female-driven content. If you find more, make sure to share them.