#BestoftheWeb: Jessica Chastain, Kathleen Kennedy and Jennifer Lawrence

jessica chastain and jlaw
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Women are heating up the dialogue on sexism and inequality in Hollywood. Take a look at the highest-grossing blockbuster films for any given week. How many were produced or directed by women? Hardly any. Talented and experienced women filmmakers are excluded from leading Hollywood’s most promising films for no reason other than their gender. When you add sexism and pay inequality to the mix, many women in Hollywood have not hesitated to use their public voice in an effort to end disparity (not just for them, but women in all industries). It’s (way past) time to make a change and some viable solutions are not out of reach. Here are some of the stories that have been brewing:

  1.  Jessica Chastain Pens Essay from Female-Helmed Movie Set: No One Feels “Left Out or Bullied” – The Hollywood Reporter

Jessica Chastain describes working with the army of female filmmakers and crew members on the set of ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ as “heaven.” Jessica’s recent Op-Ed in ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ tells her point of view. “When you have both genders represented, then you have a healthier point of view. The energy is great, you all are working together as a community, and everyone is participating in the exchange of ideas. You don’t feel a hierarchy; you don’t have anyone feeling like they are being left out or bullied or humiliated. Sometimes being the only girl on a set, you can feel like a sexual object.”

“Women in power make room for other women.” When a woman directs a film, two great things happen. More women get hired and the vibe on set is better for women.

“Of the 21 features Chastain has shot since 2008, four have been with female helmers, or 19 percent.” While the stats are still gravely disproportionate, Chastain has enjoyed more female-led films than most; “women topped only 4.6 percent of studio films in 2014.”  

  1.  Kathy Kennedy Says a Woman Will Direct a ‘Star Wars’ Movie – Fortune Magazine

Legendary producer Kathy Kennedy has had a storied career with nearly a hundred IMDB credits, since she produced the film ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ in 1982. You may have heard of a few of the franchises she brought into the world: Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, and Gremlins. She’s also credited for blockbuster films ‘The Last Airbender’ and ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.’

Once Kathy Kennedy took the lead at Lucasfilm as President (2012; post Disney acquisition), her career and efforts for gender equality (hiring women and creating story boards) has been nothing short of next-level. Her first ‘Star Wars’ film (The Force Awakens, Episode VII) broke a slew of cinema records, nationally and internationally, after its premiere on December 18, 2015. Titles like “fastest film in history to hit $1 billion worldwide” and “best-selling film of all time” show the caliber of the film’s accolades.

Kathy Kennedy is searching for the perfect female director to join the explosively successful ‘Star Wars’ universe. Not only has the “force” awakened, the “franchise” has awakened, as it rides the wave of Episode VII’s success. There are plenty of upcoming ‘Star Wars’ films to go around to one or more female directors: Rogue One (2016), Episode VIII (2017), untitled Han Solo anthology (2018), Episode IX (2019), and untitled Star Wars anthology (just announced with no release date). Kathy spilled all the juicy details at the ‘Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit’ in Washington:

  1.  With New Equal-Pay Act, Will Jennifer Lawrence Get Paid Like Bradley Cooper? – LA Times

Uh-oh, when the Sony Hack happened, Jennifer Lawrence (and the rest of the world) saw her income percentage for ‘American Hustle’ (7%) alongside her male counterparts (9%). Jennifer Lawrence, other actresses, and, frankly, women in all industries are capitalizing on this Zeitgeist moment. It has given women leverage to speak louder than ever for pay equality among genders.

Around the same time frame, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the ‘Fair Pay Act’ (also known as Equal-Pay Act) on October 6, 2015, “one of the toughest pay equity laws in the nation.” California businesses are now legally-bound to evaluate and level their pay scales among both genders. Once fully enacted, this adjustment will go a long way to bring more fairness to women in any job industry. This should help film writers, actors, directors and other crew members get the equal pay they deserve, which are also heavily protected by unions.

When it comes to Hollywood actresses, new Equal-Pay Act may not pertain to them. They’ll probably have to continue to toughen their negotiating skills and thwart the sexism that often comes their way when they stick up for themselves. “Typically, the actors and writers who are in high demand have set up their own companies, a practice in the industry known as a loan-out corporation. The studio makes a deal with those loan-out corporations, so the actor typically is an employee of his or her own firm.”

Here are the deets on Jennifer Lawrence’s pay equality battle and what she’s done thus far to combat sexism and pay inequality:


  1.  Award-Winning Women Directors Discuss Filming ‘Women of the Year’ Winners – Glamour Magazine

‘Glamour’ magazine commissioned eight award-winning female directors to spotlight the eight nominees for their ‘25th Women of the Year Awards’ and it was a beautiful partnership. The legendary directors involved were Janicza Bravo, Amanda Marsalis, Lily Baldwin, Jennifer Baichwal, Marjan Tehrani, Jessica Sanders, Marta Cunningham, and Alexandria Stapleton.

The directors saw the project as more than a job. The talented story-tellers used their skills to elevate and honor each of the featured Glamour-nominated women, which included Caitlyn Jenner, Misty Copeland, and Victoria Beckham. During this ‘Roundtable Talk,’ the directors discuss the need for Hollywood to utilize more female directors in prominent films and the finer details of showing more respect to women through strategic filming techniques:

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