Everyone who watched this year's Oscars witnessed at least one powerful moment for women, amid the
forgettable montages and fast food antics. Best Actress winner Frances McDormand gently placed her Academy Award statuette on the ground and informed millions of viewers that she had "some things to say." McDormand asked every single female nominee in the room to stand up, before cryptically ending her speech with the phrase, "inclusion rider."
Women giving recognition to women in Hollywood is certainly moving, especially on live TV. But most people watching at home (and, most likely, watching from their seat at the Dolby Theatre) noticed two things: the amount of women who stood up after McDormand's request was dismally small, and the only ones with name recognition had very, very recognizable names already, like Meryl and Saoirse.
International Women's Day this year, we want to throw some more names into the mix. And we went directly to the women who inspire us already, both on and off the screen. Who are we talking about when we say, "the future is female"? Who is making sure women's stories get told? And who will be standing up at the Oscars when this sure-to-be-repeated McDormand command happens five years from now? Take a look at our slideshow to find out who's next.
In honor of International Women’s Day, Refinery29 is asking women to pay-it-forward by endorsing a female colleague or expert in their field. Head
here to discover inspiring women across all of the categories R29 covers.
THE INFLUENCER: Marta Kauffman, writer/producer ( Friends, Grace and Frankie) THE SHOUT OUT: Hannah KS Canter, producer ( Grace and Frankie, Seeing Allred) "The future of our industry is in the hands of the next generation of women. One of those women, Hannah KS Canter, is the kind of producer we all strive to be. She’s smart, knowledgeable, kind, hard-working, fierce, generous with her thoughts and very collaborative. She can find the holes and weaknesses in scripts better than most seasoned producers I’ve worked with. As a matter of fact, I look forward to getting notes from her – not something a writer says very often. She’s actually the woman who came up with the central idea for our show Grace and Frankie. I feel lucky to work with her and am relieved to know the future of television is in good hands."
THE INFLUENCER: Zoey Deutch, actress ( Everybody Wants Some!!, Before I Fall) THE SHOUT OUT: Carolina Costa, cinematographer ( Flower, They) "There are fewer things more badass than seeing a 5'2 Brazilian woman running around with two camera cases and an Alexa on her shoulder in the Badlands of Lancaster in 110 degree heat and that would be just the tip of the iceberg of cool shit I witnessed Carolina Costa do on the set of our movie Flower. Her wisdom and elegance shines in every frame of this movie. I had never worked with the female cinematographer up to this point and I’m not quite sure how that's possible. Her feminine energy radiated and the rest of the set followed her lead. I’ve never felt so safe and so seen from the cinematographer before. She is one of my heroes. "Side note: When I called her to ask if it was okay to gush and mush about my obsession with her, I realized she wasn't going to pick up and was in Thailand on a silent retreat (where she also just shaved all her hair off). So. Like I said, BADASS."
THE INFLUENCER: Krysten Ritter, actress ( Jessica Jones, Big Eyes) THE SHOUT OUT: Melissa Rosenberg, producer/writer ( Twilight, Dexter) "Melissa Rosenberg is such an exciting boss and collaborator to have with me on Jessica Jones and we need more people like her in the industry. "Working with Melissa, I learn so much about embracing my vulnerability as well as my strength. Watching her lead by example, and with such fierce grace, is something I will take with me even beyond Jessica Jones. "As our showrunner, Melissa makes the cast and crew feel supported, seen and heard, which is the most amazing gift because it in turn allows me to go even deeper into the dark places that the role requires. She’s incredibly hard working, supportive of others, she’s a girls girl through and through, loves good ideas no matter where they come from, is always trying to turn archetypes and stereotypes on their head even in the smallest details, and consistently maintains an integrity to her writing that inspires me every day. "Like Jessica Jones, Mel is a total badass who lives outside the box and I’m so lucky I get to work with her."
THE INFLUENCER: Sope Aluko, actress ( Black Panther, Counterpart) THE SHOUT OUT: Lupita Nyong'o, actress ( 12 Years A Slave, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) "Five years ago, when Lupita Nyong’o won the Academy Award for her performance in 12 Years A Slave, I was at home crying buckets! It felt as if I had won. Here I saw a beautiful, Black, polished, graceful, and articulate actress of African origin and it felt like that was me on that stage. "Her speech spoke directly to all of us aspiring actors. But what I gleaned particularly from all her award speeches was that it was finally our time! And when I mean “our,” I mean every dark-skinned Black, non-traditional looking, talented sistah who has never been given an opportunity to shine. "I was that person at the time. My Nigerian-British-American heritage and language skills looked good on paper but casting didn’t know what to with me... what box do I go in? Well Lupita obliterated that 'box.' "Fast forward to 2017 when I locked eyes with her for the first time on the set of Black Panther. All these inexplicable emotions came flooding in. She had no idea what impression she had made on me and on many other actors like myself. "Having now spent some time with her on the set as well as during dinner with friends, I have found she is truly a loving, kind soul. The fact that she used her Academy Award status to not selfishly elevate her career alone, but also elevate the careers of the other African ladies she worked with on the Broadway show Eclipsed is a testament to the character that she is. "It was such a pleasure working with her and knowing her. She truly embraces her African heritage and represents the nation so well internationally with grace, elegance, and supreme sophistication. I look forward to working with Lupita again soon — hopefully on Black Panther 2!"
THE INFLUENCER: Holly Taylor, actress ( The Americans, The Witch Files) THE SHOUT OUT: Keri Russell, actress ( Free State of Jones, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) "Keri Russell has unknowingly helped me define the strength of being a woman in this industry. Her work ethic makes her job look easy, which I’ve learned that it is definitely not. She smiles through freezing temperatures at 3 a.m. in the city, and still never misses a line. Bundled in body warmers, running through spy work in high heels, Keri somehow performs with grace. Her talent shines humbly on the set of The Americans, often underrated for the complexity of her role. A pillar of strength on her own, Keri knows how to stand up for herself and use her voice for what she believes in. An independent woman who ‘don’t need no man,’ but happens to have a really nice one! "The quality that I most admire about The Americans' leading woman (besides her work ethic, talent, independence, strength, creativity, dedication… I could keep going!), is her kindness. If being thoughtful was an Olympic sport, Keri Russell would take home the gold every year. When around Keri, no one can feel left out, uncared for or disregarded. She inspires me to be a better person every day on set."
THE INFLUENCER: Alexandra Daddario, actress ( When We First Met, Baywatch) THE SHOUT OUT: Stacie Passon, director ( The Path, Transparent) "I just worked with a woman, Stacie Passon, who directed me in a movie called We Have Always Lived In The Castle. She directs on Transparent, which is a wonderful show, although they’re having controversy [right now]. She’s just a brilliant director, and I think there are a lot of women that are up and coming, and especially with everything that’s going on in the world right now, we’re coming together to help give women more opportunities, and look to diversify Hollywood. There’s only 11% of [top-grossing] films that are directed by women — that’s crazy. I think that’s going to change, and there’s so many brilliant people working and paving the way for what’s going to happen in the future."
THE INFLUENCER: Farah Abushwesha, producer ( Irreplaceable You) THE SHOUT OUT: Stephanie Laing, producer/director ( Veep, Irreplaceable You) “First thing to know about Stephanie is she is a mom above all other things. You'll notice her tattoo with three hearts symbolizing her children. The second is, despite that softly spoken voice she is a lioness, a lot of fun, and very clear about what she wants. It is only the fool that misjudges that voice for a submissive person for it is that voice that can command an army, a film, that wills things to happen and they do. You'll never say no to her, that is why she makes things happen. This is not in a manipulative way, Stephanie moves mountains for others around her too. "She is instinctual and sensitive. People feel that she gets them after one meeting. And she has. I think that’s why directing is such a natural fit for her — she is encouraging, understanding, and clear about what she wants. Her process is really interesting — she gets to know the film inside out lyrically and she also loves music. She loves to talk about the score and how that underlines the emotion. I can hear her thinking music and song choices from the moment she picks up a script and she loves symbolic images. She thinks in terms of tone and themes. She’s not afraid to cry if something moves her but she also doesn’t take crap. She never intimidates or undermines people but encourages them to play to their strengths. She is one of those women who is sending the ladder back down and reaching down to help others up.”
THE INFLUENCER: Eris Baker, actress ( This Is Us, Alexa and Katie) THE SHOUT OUT: Ava DuVernay, director ( A Wrinkle In Time, Selma) “I am tremendously inspired by the work of Ava DuVernay. A legendary storyteller who is committed to telling the stories of those who look like me and using her platform and her voice to encourage us all to make change. As a young actress, she encourages me to find my voice and to tell our stories. She continues to break ceilings and move barriers as an African American female director, producer and screenwriter, and she has ignited within me a passion to do the same. It is my absolute honor to celebrate Ava DuVernay — my SHERO — for International Women’s Day!”
THE INFLUENCER: Alma Ha’rel, director ( Bombay Beach) THE SHOUT OUT: Reed Morano, director ( The Handmaid's Tale, I Think We're Alone Now) "Reed Morano is the kind of director that women tell each other stories about. Stories that make them stronger. Did you know she was a cinematographer before she directed? Did you know she never directed TV before The Handmaid's Tale? Did you know she created a 64-page lookbook and a 10-song playlist to get them to hire her? Did you know she has children? And tattoos? "Reed is an exceptional cinematographer whose ability to create emotional and subjective images that put you inside her character's head, translated perfectly into her directing. Last week, I was nominated for the DGA awards in a category no woman ever won, Best commercial director. In fact, only two women were ever nominated for it. I didn't win that night but I got to win a memory that I will keep close to my heart. When I went to the restroom, I found Reed fixing her make-up after she cried watching my spot. It felt like a much better award at that moment. Reed is the kind of director that gets women directors shook up. We just know. "This one is here to stay. "It's a rare thing for us to see and a rare thing for us to become. With all the hype and conversations about women directors, people tell me lately that it's a great time to be a woman director. What they possibly don't know is that the 2017 pilot season featured only one female director out of 41 drama series. It was an all-time low. When Reed created the unforgettable world of Gilead she did it against all odds. And when later that night she made history as the first woman to win an Emmy and a DGA award for drama directing, she got a standing ovation for her work and not for her gender. "Blessed be the fruit y'all."
THE INFLUENCER: Rachel Platten, singer ("Broken Glass") THE SHOUT OUT: Lilly Singh, YouTube producer "Lilly is a true boss (or BAWSE as Lilly says). "Lilly began making YouTube videos as a way of dealing with her depression. She doesn’t shy away from sharing her lows. It has made me more comfortable with being myself on social media and I believe in the power of loving myself. "She really uses her platform for good. She teaches us we can be glamorous on a red carpet, but embrace ourselves for having a hard day crying in our bedrooms. Lilly doesn’t just show her highlight real. She gives you the full picture. From red carpets and full glam, to funny and embarrassing moments to daily vlogs, where she is showing the high and lows of each day. She is truly real with her fans. She lets her viewers see her flaws. "Lastly, and one of the things I love the most about Lilly, is her anti-sexist #GirlLove series. Lilly lives and breathes girl love. This series dedicated to ending and reversing the culture of girl-on-girl hatred. Lilly exudes girl love. It’s contagious and she pushes you to be kinder and more loving to yourself and everyone around you! I am lucky to call Lilly one of the badass women in my tribe."
THE INFLUENCER: Erika Olde, producer ( Home Again, The Female Brain) THE SHOUT OUT: Laura Walker Lee, producer/film financier ( Cruise) "I was introduced to Laura Walker Lee a few years ago. She had recently left the agency world where she was a film finance agent at CAA to start a new venture with one of Latin America’s biggest content creators, producer/financier Alex Garcia. The duo launched AG Capital, the entertainment finance division of Garcia’s AG Studios. "Since then, they have financed films like Cruise, which will be released in theaters this year and television series like The First, which is to air on Hulu this summer. Outside of her work as a producer, Laura is a globally minded thought leader and strong advocate for building a community of trust within the entertainment industry. In 2016 she commissioned a piece with The Hollywood Reporter highlighting the film industry’s lack of diversity, particularly in international markets. The bankability of star-power has a lot of play when it comes to deal-making in Hollywood, and Laura is a strong supporter of breaking down these barriers to see larger and more diverse talent. This past January she also sponsored Into Action, a pop-up exhibition, cultural gathering and community organizing action hub in Los Angeles. The event brings together hundreds of our nation’s most prolific artists, activists, musicians, policymakers and community leaders to face both the pain and beauty of the previous year and create plans and initiatives for the year to come. "Laura is a badass, who is making a difference while simultaneously being a trusted friend and confidant throughout my career and life. Her work ethic, wit and ability to navigate today’s industry raises the standard for industry equality. It’s women like her who make International Women’s Day something worth celebrating. Laura wants to change the world, and at this rate I think she just might."
THE INFLUENCER: Paula Weinstein, EVP of Tribeca Enterprises THE SHOUT OUT: Jane Rosenthal, CEO of Tribeca Enterprises "I first met Jane when she was a very young woman in Hollywood when she brought Abbie Hoffman, an old friend of mine from the anti-war movement, to my home in LA. Abbie was underground at the time — new name, new identity — so who was this 22 year old bringing my friend to me? Over time I would learn who she was. "I began to hear a lot more about Jane over the years and what she and Bob De Niro were doing in Tribeca. We met again when we began to work on Analyze This. I was so impressed with Jane, with her brilliance about script, her devotion to talent, her modesty about her own talent and her dogged perseverance and sense of justice. She so impressed me that I broke my rule and asked her to share my producer credit on the film. We remained friends over the years. When we were making our second film together it was shortly after 9/11 and I watched Jane organize the New York community into helping the restaurants and workers of Tribeca and other downtown neighborhoods after the attack. She and Bob then come up with the idea of having artists be part of the renewal of downtown. I listened to her expertly speaking to heads of major corporations asking them to join in and support the Tribeca Film Festival, a then one-time event, and where artists voices could speak out in defiance of terrorism. "I was lucky enough to come to that first festival and see the streets of Tribeca teeming with families, watch films by filmmakers who were privileged to be a part of the economic and spiritual renewal of downtown. As if this work were not enough, Jane produced over the next years the biggest comedy franchise, Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers and Little Fockers. Jane had always known of my desire to come to NY and one day sitting on the top of Bel Air, lonely with my child off to college, and a little bit stuck, I reached out to Jane and the first thing she said to me was, “What’s the matter, come to NY!” I came, we met and five years later I’m still at Tribeca watching this extraordinary woman lead her company with strength and conviction, creativity and wisdom while instilling a sense of curiosity in all of us about where the entertainment industry is going and the new forms of storytelling. Jane is a pioneer, she is also a woman who puts what she believes into practice – Tribeca has 70% woman on its staff. She started The Tribeca Film Institute to reach out to young people in Middle School and High School and beyond, to support independent filmmakers and to give women and people of color a place to get their films supported and financed. Jane is a great friend, a remarkable mother of two wonderful young women – Juliana and Isabella — and a fearless leader. I could not love or respect her more."
THE INFLUENCER: Kristen Anderson-Lopez, writer ( Frozen, Coco) THE SHOUT OUT: Jennifer Lee, writer ( A Wrinkle In Time, Zootopia) "I watch [Lee]. I learn so much from her in the room; how she’s able to hold on to an idea and if what she wants to communicate isn’t getting through, how she doesn’t go, ‘Ugh, oh well, no one’s hearing me.’ She holds on like a dog with a bone and figures out how to be heard. Or says, ‘Okay, let’s go backwards from where we’re disagreeing, and let’s go to what are we both agreeing on needs to happen dramatically.’ I watch her do this in story room after story room, and she really inspires me as a person."
THE INFLUENCER: Gabrielle Ruiz, actress ( Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Alone Together) THE SHOUT OUT: Gina Rodriguez, actress ( Jane The Virgin, Annihilation) "I nominate the fierce and the brilliant Gina Rodriguez for International Women’s Day. Her presence in our industry is making leaps and bounds for Latina women. I have always admired her for her passion in her craft and how her work on and off the screen elevates those around her. Recently flexing her muscles as a director, she has inspired me to face my own challenges and goals, however far in the future they may be. ¡Sí se puede! "Representing Latina women on The CW with Gina brings me great honor and pride. I share her belief in her movement for demanding more representation in the film industry. She’s a formidable leader."
THE INFLUENCER: Chelsey Crisp, actress ( Fresh Off The Boat) THE SHOUT OUT: Nahnatchka Khan, writer/producer ( Fresh Off The Boat, Don't Trust The B--- In Apt. 23) "I’ve spent the last four years on a show run by Nahnatchka Khan and I’d like to share the things that are said behind her back. Writers brag about being home on time at night to be with their kids. Actors gossip about how their parts get better every year. Department heads tell me they feel listened to and trusted as artists. Crew members say their goals are heard and encouraged. Studio execs assert that everything is delivered on time. Everyone uses the same nickname to explain why — Natch. "When tasked with writing this piece about her, I’m at immediate risk of sounding like a love-sick stalker if I simply tell the truth about who she is and what she’s like to work with. So I turned to the women of Fresh Off The Boat and canvassed everyone I saw one day on set. From cast to crew to producers, I asked them the first word that comes to mind when I say 'Natch.' Their honest, un-edited answers provide the perfect bird’s eye view of the woman we work for. "Nahnatchka Khan is real, dynamic, smart, kind, communicative, welcoming, casual, incredible, intuitive, inspirational, even-keeled, caring, relaxed, hilarious, nurturing, chill, supportive, detail-oriented, amazing, brilliant. "Only one word repeated itself in my experiment. Several women answered 'Hero. Natch is my hero.'”
THE INFLUENCER: Trudie Styler, actress/producer/director ( Freak Show, Filth) THE SHOUT OUT: Bette Midler, actress ( The Women, The Stepford Wives) "I’d like to celebrate the extraordinary force for good that is Bette Midler. Of course she is one of our greatest actresses – and I had the pleasure and honor of directing her in my film Freak Show – as well as an incredible singer and entertainer. But I’d like to celebrate her today especially for her activism. From her time singing at the Continental Baths, which led to her prominent support of the gay liberation movement, to her many practical environmental projects around New York, Bette Midler simply wants to make the world a better place for people to live in. "More than 20 years ago Bette founded the New York Restoration Project, which has restored several long neglected parks in different areas of New York. NYRP also bought 60 community gardens being auctioned by the city for commercial development, and has worked hard to improve and protect these gardens for the enjoyment of the communities they are part of. And as if all that wasn’t enough, she also supports wounded veterans and their families, providing them with specially adapted houses, as well as psychological support. I don’t know if she ever knew that she’s my hero... but maybe she will now!"