+
upworthy

directors

For months, the biggest news surrounding "Star Trek" was whether Quentin Tarantino would write and direct the next installment. Instead, "Star Trek" is getting its first female director. And it's about time.

Though details are still emerging, it appears that Clarkson, a veteran director of episodes of acclaimed shows like "Jessica Jones" and "Orange Is the New Black," will direct the fourth installment in the J.J. Abrams-led film reboot of the long-standing science fiction series.

Abrams is also reportedly co-producing the film with a woman, bringing back Hollywood veteran Lindsey Weber, who co-produced the last Trek film in 2016.


[rebelmouse-image 19476687 dam="1" original_size="500x327" caption="GIF from "Star Trek."" expand=1]GIF from "Star Trek."

"Star Trek" has a long history of inclusion.

50 years ago, the original "Star Trek" made history with the first interracial kiss on TV. Gene Roddenberry's future was one where humanity had moved beyond divisions of race and gender. It's easy to forget now, but one of the show's main heroes was of Russian origin, during the height of the Cold War. And George Takei's "Sulu" is considered one of the first positive on-screen portrayals of an Asian-American.

[rebelmouse-image 19476688 dam="1" original_size="500x288" caption="GIF from "Star Trek."" expand=1]GIF from "Star Trek."

That theme has been continued throughout Trek's various iterations. When "Star Trek: The Next Generation" premiered, the series' famous prologue "Where no man has gone before" was replaced with the gender neutral "Where no one has gone before."

GIF from "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

The newest show in the series canon "Star Trek: Discovery," has pushed inclusion even further, featuring a black woman as the series lead, a more racially and culturally diverse cast, prominent LGBTQ characters, and more diverse talent behind the scenes as well.

"Star Trek has always been pictorial of diversity and inclusion and universality," star Sonequa Martin-Green said before Discovery's premiere.

[rebelmouse-image 19476689 dam="1" original_size="500x250" caption="GIF from "Star Trek: Discovery."" expand=1]GIF from "Star Trek: Discovery."

Greater inclusion in Hollywood is the right thing to do and it leads to better entertainment for all of us.

The question foremost on most fans' minds is whether the movie or TV show they're watching is going to be any good. All the inclusion and diversity in the world won't amount to much if no one pays attention.

That's why it's all the more encouraging to see films like "Black Panther," "Wonder Woman," and "Get Out" find groundbreaking success both commercially and critically.

[rebelmouse-image 19476690 dam="1" original_size="366x272" caption="GIF from "Star Trek: The Next Generation."" expand=1]GIF from "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

People want to see more diverse stories told from a broader range of people and places. It also just happens to be the right thing to do. And that should give Star Trek fans, and people who care about greater inclusion in Hollywood, a lot to be excited about.

Fact: The movie business is run by straight white guys.

It's not just a feeling, it's a well-documented phenomenon.

According to a study released by the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, around 75% of the top executives at film studios are men. And only 3.4% of all film directors and 10.8% of film screenwriters are women. Oh and just in case you forgot, women make up about 50% of the population.


Just a few of the middle-aged white guys making decisions about the movies you see. Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for CinemaCon.

And while Hollywood's sexism problem is all over the news these days, many people forget that there are women who've been in this fight for close to 40 years.

In 1979, six women filmmakers put their careers on the line and took on sexism in the industry.

Dubbed, "The Original Six," these directors (Susan Bay Nimoy, Joelle Dobrow, Nell Cox, Dolores Ferraro, Vicki Hochberg, and Lynne Littman) pushed for groundbreaking research on the number of women behind the scenes in filmmaking. Their findings eventually lead to a lawsuit against Warner Brothers and Paramount in 1983.

The suit was dismissed in court in 1985, based on counterclaims from the studios. (The studios said they weren't in charge of all the hiring decisions and couldn't be accused of discrimination.)

Despite the setback, the lawsuit started a conversation — one that's been happening in whispers and screams for decades.

So what do The Original Six have to say about the current state of Hollywood? Plenty.

Four of the women, Dobrow, Cox, Littman, and Hochberg, sat down for an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit. They sifted through dozens of questions (and thousands of comments from redditors who refuse to believe sexism exists) to give their thoughts on the industry.

View post on imgur.com

Whether you're in the biz or you just catch movies on Netflix, the women delivered five truths on equality, Hollywood, and social justice that everyone should hear.

1. The fight for equality may be won in waves, and that's OK.

This isn't as simple as "women directors now, everyone else when the time is right" because it's not just representation behind the camera. Strong characters and role models in film are helping to shift the momentum too.

"Victoria here: I am going to speak about role models in movies. We now have Katniss who courageously defends her people with a weapon, Ray [sic] who can pilot a space ship better than Han Solo, and Furiosa who deliberately goes off track to protect other women. There is no way a young girl watching these films will accept that she can't do something like direct movies. I can't wait to see the current ten year olds when someone tells them that."

A fan poses with a wax figure of "The Hunger Games'" Katniss Everdeen. Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Madame Tussauds.

2. Don't get mad. Get mad and creative.

Half of film school grads are women but less than 2% of the top-grossing films of 2013 and 2014 were directed by women. That may be a discouraging disconnect, but the tide is shifting toward scrappy, creative producers, directors, and writers.

Take 31-year-old jill-of-all-trades Issa Rae. She developed her own web series, "Awkward Black Girl" in 2011. Her show caught the attention of Pharrell Williams and other influencers. She's now working on a comedy pilot and recently joined forces with HBO on an opportunity to give other traditionally underrepresented creatives an opportunity in the television industry.

"Victoria here: The world has changed. But basic truths remain. Change happens when the haves are forced to share. That is brought about in many different ways: Constant protest, demanding accountability, legal assaults. Entry level positions (episodic tv) are still very bad for women. Make your own film and be your own Hollywood via your cell phone (camera) and computer (editing and distribution). Just remember- you are supported by all woman of good will."

Rae at the 2016 Essence Black Women In Hollywood awards luncheon. Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images for Essence.

3. Your cause may be important, but it's not always the most important.

When a redditor asked if women directors should push the UN Commission on the Status of Women to help them achieve 50/50 representation in Hollywood by 2020, Littman effectively said, "pump the brakes." In the scheme of things, this effort is about women finding fulfilling creative work, a drop in the problem-bucket when women are being killed, assaulted, and disenfranchised around the world. It doesn't mean you stop trying, it just means other victories are life and death, so this one may not be a priority for everyone all the time.

"Lynne here: Among Chris Rock's most brilliant comments on the Oscar telecast: 'When your gramma is swinging from a tree, don't worry about who won best cinematographer.... etc.' The UN Commission should be concerned with saving women's lives, ending honor killings, female mutilation and voting rights. AND ... 50/50 by 2020 is Science Fiction."

Demonstrators protest violence against women on International Women's Day. Photo by Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images.

4. Hey dudes, you have a part to play in this too.

It's not solely up to women to dismantle systemic sexism. I'll say it again for the good of the group: It's not solely up to women to dismantle systemic sexism. Allies are vital!

One redditor highlighted director/producer J.J. Abrams who said ahead of his next projects, he wants agents to send him lists of directors, writers, and producers that better represent the true makeup of the country.

Not surprisingly, The Original Six are totally on board with Abrams and any other male allies who believe in the cause.

"Lynne here: I think it's GREAT! Doesn't matter how we get there. Creative producers with power eliminate the middle-men — they can hire us directly. Bravo!"

J.J. Abrams speaks at South By Southwest. Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for SXSW.

5. Want to fight for equality? Stir the pot and help other women.

When asked what the most important thing women could do to improve equality, Hochberg said disruption and connection are paramount.

"Victoria here: The most important thing for all of us to do is to NOT accept the status quo. Also, women must help other women. Women who can, must hire other women. Also, push for diversity casting."

A toast among guests at Glamour's Women Rewriting Hollywood Lunch at Sundance. Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Glamour.

Though The Original Six are still working as creative professionals and fighting for equality, last year the federal government picked up where they left off.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began interviewing women directors last fall to see what, if any, course of action they should pursue to ensure these large production companies comply with the Civil Rights Act. On paper, it looks like the studios may be breaking Title VII, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, national origin, or religion.

There's more to come in this case, but whether the government intervenes or not, there's a lot we can do to support and encourage women-led projects.

Seek them out. Buy tickets. Share great work. Together, we'll win.

More

J.J. Abrams has a plan to put Hollywood on the path to diversity.

In response to the Oscars controversy, the 'Star Wars' director has big plans.

You've probably heard lately that diversity in Hollywood is not looking good.

In fact, just last month, the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism released its annual report on diversity in entertainment media.

The study found that across writers, directors, and actors, Hollywood has a tendency to be very white and very male — disproportionately white and male.We even put together some cropped photos to illustrate how skewed the whole mess is when compared to the actual representation groups have in the U.S. population.


One reason this problem continues is that the people who have the power to make a difference (who are often white and male) don't see that discrimination is happening because it doesn't happen to them.

Just two weeks after the conversation around #OscarsSoWhite, producer/director J.J. Abrams told the Hollywood Reporter that he'd like to see things change in the hiring process.



Abrams has seen firsthand how well movies led by women and people of color can do at the box office.

He directed a little movie you may have heard of called "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Know that one? The one with the cast that looked like this:

Lupita Nyong'o, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Oscar Isaac. Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney.

That movie did pretty OK at the box office, bringing in more than $1 billion and breaking all sorts of box office records. The excuse that movies won't make money unless they center on white men simply doesn't hold water.

"Mad Max: Fury Road" and "The Hunger Games" franchise prove that women can lead badass action films. The "Pitch Perfect" franchise, "Bridesmaids," and "Spy" demonstrate that yes, people are interested in seeing female-fronted comedies.

And when it comes to people of color, the same thing goes: Yes, movies with predominantly black, Latino, or Asian casts can also be commercial successes. "Straight Outta Compton," "Beasts of No Nation," and "Creed" saw commercial and critical success this year. Sadly, though, movies led by women and people of color are still way underrepresented in society.

Using the data from the USC Annenberg report, you can see just how off-kilter and unrealistic some of Hollywood's proportions are.

Let's take a look at gender. The study found that 71.3% of speaking parts in movies went to men, despite the fact that men make up a little less than half of the U.S. population.

Upworthy original. Data: Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity in Entertainment, U.S. Census.

For directors, the comparison is even worse. In the film industry, female directors are almost nowhere to be found. The same goes for writers: Nearly 9 in 10 writers in Hollywood are men.

Creating a more diverse cast and crew makes for a stronger, more well-rounded entertainment experience. A focus on diversity isn't just for diversity's sake, but for the benefit of audiences too.

As Abrams says in his interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the goal isn't simply to have more diverse writers, directors, and actors, but to create better films.

Just two weeks after the #OscarsSoWhite backlash hit the entertainment industry, Abrams' production company, Bad Robot, enacted a new policy for hiring directors, writers, and actors. For each new project, teams will be required to submit job candidates in line with the proportions of the U.S. population.

He explains the reasoning in the interview:

Does this mean the final product of Abrams' future films will be completely and totally balanced? Of course not.

This new setup has to do with the interview and submission process, not the hiring. So fear not, Internet commenters ready to smear this plan as affirmative action run amok (I see you getting those tweeting fingers ready to go), this is nothing like that.It is, instead, a path forward to a more authentic (and better) Hollywood experience for everyone involved.