The Women Behind and In Front of the Camera

Julianna Perez, Staff Writer

   In an industry that is strongly dominated by men throughout the past decades of film, a place for women to show their capabilities is something that has been seen as rare or “bold”. However, in this new age of film and production, women are marching into this industry breaking down the barriers that once blocked them in the past with sexism and racism. Chloe Zhao, Greta Gerwig, Viola Davis, Reese Witherspoon, and Zendaya are among the many of the voices, hands, and brilliant minds of women in this new coming of age of the film industry. 

   Chloe Zhao, a pure and utter icon behind the screens of some of the most influential movies, is dominating the game when it comes to her raw way of telling a story through her eyes and more importantly, the lens of a camera. Only starting back in 2010, she developed her first batch of films, “Daughters” “Songs My Brother Taught Me”. After a few years of producing the burning story in her mind, The Rider came out and rocked the film industry back onto their feet. After receiving lots of recognition, it pushed her to tell the fictional story of a woman in her 60s going on an adventure in the American West after losing everything in the Great Recession. Directing, writing, and producing Nomadland, Chloe Zhao is nominated for Best Director in the 2021 Oscars along with Best Picture. On the screens of millions worldwide, young girls with dreams of making their mark in the industry watch the first woman of color win the award for Best Director.

   To not stray too far away, another producer/director comes Greta Gerwig, who among the directors of the industry is a force to be reckoned with. She first started her journey in the industry as an actress in movies such as LOL. After acting for a while, she partnered up with Noah Baumbach to write and take the lead role in Frances Ha in 2012. With this empowering role of a woman dancing her way through her dreams in New York, her name was starting to become more known. This led to her solo writing and directing debut with Lady Bird in 2017. This incredible and inspiring way of telling a story through the perspective of a woman’s eyes in both Lady Bird and Little Women,  received much applause from the Academy. “After being such a fan of her movies, it excites me to see all she can do with her talent,” says freshman Ava Abello. With her past and upcoming projects, she is known as one of the most definitive directors in the industry. 

   Viola Davis, a staple name in the film business as a powerful, strong woman and influential actress, is making history with every move she makes. Viola started off strong with her Broadway performance in Seven Guitars which earned her a Tony nomination. After time off, she returned to Broadway, in which she took home her first Tony award for King Hedley II. After this, her career started to soar with Oscar and Golden Globes nominations for The Help and How to Get Away With Murder, which she won an Emmy for. Not soon after, she won a Golden Globe and an Academy award for her work in Fences. Slowly creeping up on an EGOT, Viola takes a break from acting to work on her memoir. What she later doesn’t expect is that her book Finding Me will earn her a Grammy for her audio version. She stepped onto the stage during the Grammy Award ceremony to announce that she now has achieved an EGOT. This makes her the third black woman to win an Academy award, Tony, Grammy, Emmy, and Golden Globe. 

   From watching this force of nature on every screen, whether it be in Legally Blonde, Cruel Intentions, or The Man in the Moon, Reese Witherspoon goes above and beyond with achieving her dream of taking the film industry in her own hands and turning the future of directing/producing female. After making a name for herself with her “Best Actress” win for Walk the Line and other iconic movies, she started her own production company called “Hello Sunshine”. This company rooted from the thought of creating projects centered around women and giving platforms to female producers, writers, directors, etc. The company now has boomed with big name movies and tv shows such as Big Little Lies, The Morning Show, Little Fires Everywhere, and now new hit show Daisy Jones and the Six. Reese Witherspoon is carving the future of film to be inclusive and to have a new leader in charge.

   As a woman of color in this generation, Zendaya has broken down many stereotypes and barriers in the film industry. She first started her journey on Disney Channel with her roles as a fun, outgoing teenage girl. After a couple of years, more serious roles started to flow in, one of them being Spiderman: Far From Home.  Success started blooming from her roles in Malcolm and Marie, Dune, and Euphoria which have all resulted in applause and recognition. However, it hasn’t always been sunny for her in the public eye. Going through racism at such a young age at her career has molded her to fight against it especially with expressing her culture through her work and looks as well. “Seeing Zendaya still go out and show the world who she really is as an actress and person in general despite the hate is really inspiring to me as I look up to her,” says freshman Blake Stewart. At the end of the day, Zendaya walks out of every award ceremony with an award to her name and makes history by being the youngest actress to win an Emmy for best actress.

   With what may seem like a dominantly male driven industry, women like Chloe Zhao, Greta Gerwig, Viola Davis, Reese Witherspoon, and Zendaya are there to tell the story of many women and minorities around the world while taking the initiative to change who really is in charge.