The numbers don't lie: There are almost zero female directors in Hollywood.

Lena Dunham, one of the few women calling the shots in Hollywood. Photo by Randy Shropshire/Getty Images Entertainment.


That also applies to women in other roles behind the camera, and even in front of it.

In the top 700 grossing films from 2007 to 2014, women made up only 30.2% of speaking roles. In 2014, only 1.9% of directors who made the top 100 grossing films were women. And this is just from one study, conducted by the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative at USC Annenberg.

A recent New York Times article uncovered some reasons (read: excuses) for why this is the case, from studios prioritizing movies with male leads because of foreign audiences to the confounding idea that women don't want to direct blockbusters. (Spoiler alert: They do.)

The whole article is an engrossing, outrage-inducing read. Yet within the many anecdotes from female directors about discrimination they've experienced lie many potential solutions. Here are five:

1. The few women who do have a foot inside Hollywood's door need to support other women.

Apparently, in Hollywood, women don't often find support from other women. Even when some women make it to the top — such as the ones who run two of Hollywood's big six studios — they don't always extend a hand to other female directors or even actresses.

When an industry only makes room for one or two women to succeed, those women are less likely to support other women out of fear that they'll be replaced by the very women they mentored.

Another fear that keeps women from working together in Hollywood is being pigeonholed as someone who can only work on movies for women. Former Sony Co-Chairperson Amy Pascal explained that after producing female-driven hits earlier in her tenure, she felt she wouldn't be given a chance to make more mainstream projects.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment.

As long as it's every woman for herself, women are going to remain tokens in a male-dominated Hollywood. Many of the female directors and producers who spoke to the New York Times stressed the importance of making change by working together.

Pascal herself is getting back to producing movies about women, including the all-female "Ghostbusters" reboot.

2. Men in Hollywood need to mentor outside their comfort zone — i.e., they need to mentor women.

The Times piece opens with the charmed upward trajectory of director Colin Trevorrow, who went to the Sundance Film Festival with an indie romantic comedy. Pixar director Brad Bird ("The Incredibles") then introduced him to Steven Spielberg, who picked Trevorrow to direct "Jurassic World." Bird said he liked Trevorrow because Trevorrow "reminded me of me." Meanwhile, director Leslye Headland also had her indie romantic comedy, "Bachelorette," screen at Sundance and got no such recommendation or opportunity.

There could be many reasons why Headland didn't come away from her Sundance screening with an opportunity like that. But Bird related to Trevorrow because he saw himself in him. So it makes (unfortunate) sense that women are less likely to get the opportunities their male counterparts get simply because the men who offer them don't see themselves reflected in female directors.

Hollywood has to stop thinking of women-driven films as niche, or women directors as too unrelatable to mentor. And men in positions of power in Hollywood need to make sure they're mentoring women just as often as they're mentoring men.

3. The success of people like Shonda Rhimes, Jennifer Lawrence, and Amy Schumer shouldn't be exceptions to the rule.

Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images Entertainment.


As far as Hollywood is concerned, "The Hunger Games" succeeded only because of Jennifer Lawrence, "Trainwreck" succeeded only because of of Amy Schumer, and "Scandal" and "How to Get Away With Murder" are only successes because of Shonda Rhimes — not because women in general are capable of creating films and shows for a large audience, but because these specific few, rare women are talented enough to have mainstream appeal.

Successful female-driven films and TV shows are thought to be exceptions to the rule, rather than profitable and resonant in their own right. And when a female-driven film or show flops, it's often assumed that it flopped because of women, even though when movies with male leads flop, the overwhelming maleness of the film is never cited as a reason why.

Luckily, there are Hollywood power players who are investing in women-directed films and television shows. Besides Rhimes, a powerful producer and show-runner, there's Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep, and Geena Davis, as well as Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, who are all championing female directors, screenwriters, and characters through their nonprofit organizations and production companies.

"If everyone's gonna pass on all the strong, ass-kicking lady directors and writers out there, we'll take them," says McKay.

4. Hollywood needs to let women be themselves on set.

There are two glaring examples of this in the NYT piece. The first is the case of "Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke, who wasn't considered to direct the rest of the franchise after helming the first movie because she was "overly emotional," crying on set during a particularly hard day. And the second is the great Barbra Streisand, who was derided for being "indecisive" when she asked for input on the set of "Yentl."

Yet directors like David O. Russell keep directing Oscar contenders even after he's come to blows with George Clooney, shouted at Lily Tomlin on set, and allegedly "abused" Amy Adams on the set of "American Hustle," according to the Sony email hack.

Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Entertainment.

Cinematographer Rachel Morrison told the NYT about how, when she finally couldn't hide her pregnancy anymore, people stopped booking her on jobs.

"It should have been up to me if I was capable to work or not," Morrison said. As much as male directors are given free rein over their sets and their schedules — and their emotional outbursts — the same opportunities should be available to women.

5. Women should feel just as empowered and entitled to help themselves as their male peers do.

It's inevitable that all this sexism is internalized, at least somewhat. Which is probably why Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy told the Times that no woman expressed interest to her in directing "Star Wars." It's also why, as director Allison Anders explained, that in Hollywood negotiations, "The men are like: 'Oh please, yes. I want to do this.' Women are a little too suspicious, too cautious and a little too precious about their reality."

This is the "Lean In" phenomenon. Women need to lean in and ask for more in order to get success. And that's good advice for individual women to internalize, but does it help on a systemic level?

As "Girls" creator Lena Dunham pointed out, there is a flaw in putting the pressure on women to fix the problems in a system where sexism is so prevalent and power is so often held by men:

"I feel like we do too much telling women: 'You aren't aggressive enough. You haven't made yourself known enough.' And it's like, women shouldn't be having to hustle twice as fast to get what men achieve just by showing up."

So how do we fix this?

We're seeing progress, slowly but surely, as more and more female-driven films and shows succeed. And even industry executives can't deny the pattern of what shows and movies are bringing in the most money.

But there are two things that need to happen to make sure this progress continues until we reach a point of gender parity: One, women have to fight for themselves and support each other, and two, men have to support women too.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Upworthy is sharing this letter from Myra Sack on the anniversary of the passing of her daughter Havi Lev Goldstein. Loss affects everyone differently and nothing can prepare us for the loss of a young child. But as this letter beautifully demonstrates, grief is not something to be ignored or denied. We hope the honest words and feelings shared below can help you or someone you know who is processing grief of their own. The original letter begins below:


Dear Beauty,

Time is crawling to January 20th, the one-year anniversary of the day you took your final breath on my chest in our bed. We had a dance party the night before. Your posse came over. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, closest friends, and your loving nanny Tia. We sat in the warm kitchen with music on and passed you from one set of arms to another. Everyone wanted one last dance with you. We didn’t mess around with only slow songs. You danced to Havana and Danza Kuduro, too. Somehow, you mustered the energy to sway and rock with each of us, despite not having had anything to eat or drink for six days. That night, January 19th, we laughed and cried and sang and danced. And we held each other. We let our snot and our tears rest on each other’s shoulders; we didn’t wipe any of them away. We ate ice cream after dinner, as we do every night. And on this night, we rubbed a little bit of fresh mint chocolate chip against your lips. Maybe you’d taste the sweetness.

Reggaeton and country music. Blueberry pancakes and ice cream. Deep, long sobs and outbursts of real, raw laughter. Conversations about what our relationships mean to each other and why we are on this earth.


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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Cellist Cremaine Booker's performance of Faure's "Pavane" is as impressive as it is beautiful.

Music might be the closest thing the world has to real magic. Music has the ability to transform any atmosphere in seconds, simply with the sounds of a few notes. It can be simple—one instrument playing single notes like raindrops—or a complex symphony of melodies and harmonies, swirling and crashing like waves from dozens of instruments. Certain rhythms can make us spontaneously dance and certain chord progressions can make us cry.

Music is an art, a science, a language and a decidedly human endeavor. People have made music throughout history, in every culture on every continent. Over time, people have perfected the crafting of instruments and passed along the knowledge of how to play them, so every time we see someone playing music, we're seeing the history of humanity culminated in their craft. It's truly an amazing thing.

The pandemic threw a wrench into seeing live musicians for a good chunk of time, and even now, live performances are limited. Thankfully, we have technology that makes it easier for musicians to collaborate and perform with one another virtually—and also makes it easier for people to create "group" performances all by themselves.

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The airplane graveyard that 3 families call home is the subject of a stunning photo series.

From the skies to the ground, these airplanes continue to serve a purpose.

This article originally appeared on 09.18.15


What happens to airplanes after they're no longer fit to roam the skies?


An abandoned 747 rests in a Bangkok lot. Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images.

Decommissioned planes are often stripped and sold for parts, with the remains finding a new home in what is sometimes referred to as an "airplane boneyard" or "graveyard." Around the world, these graveyards exist; they're made up of large, empty lots and tons of scrap metal.

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