More Women Should Be Helping Women — Here's How

Photo: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
I feel like it’s not enough to say that producing and starring in Equity was a dream come true. There are no words to describe the feelings of seeing something I made become a success, screening at the Sundance Film Festival, and being bought by Sony Pictures Classic. Whenever I achieve something like that — something that feels so completely against all odds and almost impossible — I want to help others do the same.

At Sundance, I was deeply moved and inspired by Effie Brown's speech about helping women become better represented in the entertainment industry. I took her wise words of “hire, invest, mentor” to heart, and in my “go big or go home” way, I doubled down to come up with these six ways to help women in any field. I have to be honest: Often I feel like I don't have enough time, money, or resources to help. But I make the time; I give the money; I find the resources, because that is how we affect change. Be the change you want to see, my friends.

So here goes...

Hire:
I hire women whenever possible. I made it a priority when I was hiring for Equity. We had a female director, screenwriter, and 70% of our department heads were women. And now, we are so blessed to have an all-female producing team as we develop the feature film into a television series for ABC.

Hire more women, and those women will hire more women. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Inspire:
Hopefully, I inspire other women. By being a “hyphenate” — an actress-producer-activist-creator-mother — I show others it’s possible to break barriers, shatter ceilings, and be everything you want to be. And no, I can't and don't do it all, all at the same time. And yes, there are epic fails trying to juggle everything. Balls fall on my head and knock me out. But I get back up, and try again.

And here is the good news: If all that success is possible for a woman over 35 in entertainment — one of the most sexist, ageist, male-dominated industries on Earth — then imagine what you can do in your career!

Mentor:
I mentor more women than ever. As my career expands and my life as a mother-actress-producer-activist explodes, I feel like I have less time for it, but I make time. I never had a mentor and I so wish someone had made time for me.

If you can’t find someone, make a mentor group with friends and mentor each other. I did this, and it was amazing. Together we encouraged each other and made each other accountable. We still do!

Don’t forget that a mentoring relationship works both ways: Every woman who becomes a mentor gets as much out of it as her mentee. I get perspective and gratitude for where I came from, and I remember my own advice. If I tell my mentee to do something that scares her, it inspires me to do the same! Together we rise.

Invest:
I invest in women. I buy tickets to female-produced and directed films and support female-created content. I invest in female-led projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I invest in female entrepreneurs, whether it’s buying their jewelry or clothes or using their services. I tell other women (and men) to do the same.

Shameless plug alert: One easy way you could do this is by buying the DVD of Equity right now!

Serve:
I volunteer for a lot of organizations that are on the front lines of creating more opportunities for women. I recommend the Geena Davis Institute On Gender In Media, Mythic Bridge, We Do It Together, WIFT, Women Make Movies, and YWLN. And we all know Planned Parenthood needs you more than ever.

When we commit to being of service, we remember we're a part of something bigger than ourselves. It feels awesome. If you are depressed, go serve others. (Especially women!) Volunteering also combats misogyny: Helping other women proves that giving, compassion, and kindness are strengths, not weaknesses. Together, we are stronger.

Share:
I share my resources to help other women succeed. I believe there's enough to go around. It’s as simple as that.

Making Equity, interviewing so many business women, I learned that for many women, it feels like there are limited resources and so we have to be competitive with each other. That is a lie. Don’t believe it.

When we don't listen to that voice of jealousy, envy, and the belief that there is not enough to go around, the world changes. Just try it.
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