UPDATE: Since the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative challenged Hollywood's biggest names to hire more women filmmakers this weekend, people have listened. In addition to the dozens of celebrities that have accepted the 4% challenge to increase the number of women and women of colour in the director's chair, Universal Studios has also announced their participation, as announced on Twitter Tuesday afternoon.
The Universal Filmed Entertainment Group is the first major movie studio not only to acknowledge, but highlight and commit to the project, all with the goal of diversifying Hollywood's filmmakers and gatekeepers.
Next up, they're calling on Disney, Warner Brothers Studio, and Paramount Pictures to pledge participation and enact change.
Another announcement coming. Can't keep up with email fast enough! #4percentchallenge. @Timesupnow TWITTER ASK @disney @WarnerBrosEnt @ParamountPics to MATCH Donna Langley's pledge @UniversalPics CC: @TessaThompson_x @brielarson @ninajacobson @paulfeig— Annenberg Inclusion Initiative (@Inclusionists) January 29, 2019
This story was originally published January 29 at 3:40 p.m.
The Academy may have snubbed women directors again this year with the Best Director nominations, but the ladies aren’t going down without a fight. And now, they have even more colleagues in Hollywood supporting them, thanks to a new challenge from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, also known as the Inclusionists.
During the “Making the (In)visible: Radical Transparency in the Data-Driven Age” panel at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, USC’s Dr. Stacy L. Smith announced the “4% Challenge” to encourage filmmakers to work with women directors, especially woman directors of colour, within the next 18 months. Amy Schumer, Paul Feig (Ghostbusters), director Angela Robinson (Professor Marston & The Wonder Women), and executive/producer Nina Jacobson (Crazy Rich Asians) have all signed on to the challenge, Deadline reports.
The idea for the initiative was born out of cold, hard stats: from 2007-2018, just 4% of the directors of the 1200 top grossing films were women, according to the Inclusionists. And even when women are employed in high-profile film projects, they are often excluded during awards season. Case in point: only five women have ever been nominated for Best Director at the Oscars in the ceremony’s entire 90-year history.
The Inclusionists teamed up with Times Up for the “4% Challenge,” in an effort to dramatically bump up these stats. After news of the challenge hit Twitter, actresses including Kerry Washington, Tessa Thompson, Amber Tamblyn, and Brie Larson all accepted. Smith is confident that even more celebs will join in soon.
I’m in. Wish my film “Paint it Black” had a support network like this when it came out in 2016. I have many horror stories about trying to get it made and sold and seen. I bet many women filmmakers could say the same thing. Happy it’s happening now.— Amber Tamblyn (@ambertamblyn) January 26, 2019
ABSOLUTELY! YES!!!!!!!!! #TimesUp,” Washington tweeted to the news. Similarly, Larson also said she was in and encouraged others to follow suit, asking, “Who else is ready to step up?” Tamblyn commended the Inclusionists and TimesUp for launching the initiative.
“Wish my film ‘Paint it Black’ had a support network like this when it came out in 2016,” Tamblyn wrote. “I have many horror stories about trying to get it made and sold and seen. I bet many women filmmakers could say the same thing. Happy it’s happening now.”
More actors came on board as the day continued, with Reese Witherspoon, Olivia Wilde, Rachel Brosnahan, and Jurnee Smullett getting onboard.
And Armie Hammer, along with his Wounded co-star Zazie Beetz, accepted the challenge at Sundance.