“There is so much more inclusion than ever before, and I’ve been in the business for over 30 years,” beamed SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris today at the Women in Entertainment conference at Los Angeles’ Skirball Center.
The Code Black and Beverly Hills, 90210 actress was part of this afternoon’s “Designing Disruption” panel alongside STX Entertainment Chief Communications Officer Patti Rockenwagner, Warner Horizon EVP Brooke Karzen, and DreamWorks Animation Head of Television Margie Cohn, during which they discussed stereotypes of gender in entertainment.
More and more, Carteris said, the performers we see on the big screen and on TV “reflect our society — reflect the diversity of our culture from different ages, different races, different genders. We are you.”
Annually, the TV Academy lauds a greater number of performers from diverse backgrounds at the Primetime Emmys. This year saw a record 27 such actors nominated.
Rockenwagner, whose A Bad Moms Christmas opened yesterday in theaters, pointed to how eight of STXfilm’s first 13 titles were female-driven with another nine in the pipeline. Rockenwagner was blown away recently by China’s highest grossing film Wolf Warrior 2 ($832M) which employed a number of female actresses in action roles onscreen in a way that no other American or European production has ever done.
Cohn pointed to how important it is children’s television to reflect children for who they are on TV. “We’re on the front lines,” said Cohn, “It’s where have their first interaction in media.” She shared an experience from some time ago when they tested a three-character male show before a little girl. When they asked her who her favorite character was on the show, the little girl pointed to a picture of a girl on the wall in the show. “It wasn’t clear before that they needed to be represented; it was clear then,” said Cohn.
Changes are happening behind the camera too. Karzen pointed to how The Bachelor (Nicole Woods), The Voice (Audrey Morrissey) and Little Big Shots (Alison Holloway) all have female showrunners. These producers are cultivated from the inside ranks as well as the pool that the TV executive has access. Woods, Karzen pointed out, started on The Bachelor during season one, and was elevated to higher positions throughout the years. “It’s about putting women in key positions, but also pushing them up through the ranks.”
But if there’s one area that Karzen would like to see more strides made, it’s in the realm of female director, and certain below-the-line roles like lighting and production design.