One of my favorite quotes, which I often reference when asked for advice to other filmmakers, is Billy Jean King’s “pressure is a privilege.” Pressure means you’re in the game. It means you’re in pursuit of something valuable. It means you’re near to power. And resistance often means someone has correctly identified you as someone who might have the opportunity and skill to share that power. Pressure can also be an incredible motivator, and it can be applied to create real change. I really believe that in the not-too-distant future, with significant pressure, we could see a real restructuring of power and inclusiveness in the film industry.
For those of us in the industry right now, I defer to Effie Brown’s excellent motto, “invest, mentor, hire.” Invest in films written, directed, produced by, and starring women, people of color, and LGBT folks. Mentor young men and women who have bold voices that you believe in, and do what you can to get their projects into the hands of your colleagues who can help get their projects made. When you’ve got the power to hire, use it to demonstrate the principles you believe in, and surround yourself with a diverse team. Those of us who consume media have power, too. Most of us can’t finance a film, but we can choose which ones to seek out and support with our ticket dollars and social media posts and word of mouth. We can watch and share and talk about content on television and online, especially on platforms like Refinery29 that specifically endeavor to support diverse voices. We can support organizations like the Sundance Institute that conduct research to understand statistics, support diverse filmmakers, and help develop incentives that ask the industry to be held accountable for hiring practices.
It’s a real sign of evolution that inclusiveness and diversity in film is a hot topic right now. Pressure is a privilege, so let’s leverage it. So many of the people who have the power to create real change are listening.