Tonight, USC’s School of Cinematic Arts held an event that invited a panel of women in high roles in television to discuss their creative process. The panel included:
Erin Reilly (AIL Creative Director – Moderator)
Kim Moses (Ghost Whisperer)
Alexa Junge (Friends, The United States of Tara)
Nell Scovell (Sabrina, the Teenage Witch)
Felicia Henderson (Fringe, Gossip Girl)
Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries)
Melanie Chilek (EVP, Hoff Productions, former SVP, Sony Pictures Television)
Stacy L. Smith (Professor, USC Annenberg)
These women all are writers, executive producers, showrunners, etc. for these and other shows. One main point that was discussed among the panel and also that I personally have noticed recently is that television has a stronger female force behind it than film. While film does have a variety of talented well-known directors, screenwriters, producers, etc., television seems to edging closer to equality in numbers regarding gender.
While there is so much to discuss from this panel of successful women in television, the one part of the discussion really got my attention was when a quote was brought to their attention:
“But I confess that I’m ready, so very ready to get back to the freedom of the story room — tough notes and all, where it’s not about me being a “female” director. It’s not about me being only 5-foot-3. In the story room, my boobs fit just fine, because in the story room, it’s only the size of my imagination that matters.” – Jennifer Lee (director of Frozen).
The discussion revolving around this quote was whether or not one’s gender should be put aside when creating television or film or doing really any job. In previous blogs, I wrote about how I enjoyed Q&As and panels where gender was not talked about as much as the content and product itself of a story. All of the women on this panel strongly disagreed with this quote because they felt they should not have to give up a big part of themselves to fit into a writer’s room.
From a creative standpoint, an individual is valuable to a writer’s room or any creative role because they think differently and have different traits that make them unique. Gender is one of them.
What I have said in previous questions goes hand in hand with what Jennifer Lee said. But it’s not simply giving up a gender identity that either one is talking about, but rather not letting gender outweigh the creativity and skill that goes behind any job, especially one needing the imagination.
And these women touched upon the value of being female and not ignoring that huge part of one’s identity, just as men bring a male view point to the table. So it’s not pushing aside gender as if it does not matter, but rather letting gender inform the individual’s creativity, not overshadow it, which is what filmmakers such as Jennifer Lee and these women on the panel tonight exemplify.