Zu Magazine is a publication of Zu Media. Below is an article from Issue 1: Skins.
Staff Writer | Chloe’ Bagley
From “Wonder Woman” to “Hidden Figures,” Hollywood is learning that diverse, female leads are not just what people need, it’s what they want.
The summer blockbuster, “Wonder Woman,” was directed by Patty Jenkins and brought to life by Israeli actress, Gal Gadot. The story that finally made it to the big screen, nearly 75 years after Wonder Woman’s first appearance, was loved by viewers.
In its first weekend, the movie earned over $100 million and became the top earning live-action film to be directed by a woman. At the end of July, the movie snatched up the title of highest grossing movie of the summer at $389 million. “Wonder Woman” then became the second largest earner of the year right after Emma Watson’s “Beauty and the Beast.”
Needless to say, people have loved the leading ladies that 2017 has brought us. Both Gadot and Jenkins speak openly about their experiences creating the film and the impact it is having.
“I think that it’s so important that we have strong female figures to look up to, and Wonder Woman is an amazing one,” Gadot said in an interview with Variety, “It’s great that after 75 years that this character had been around, finally she gets her own movie.”
Gadot is an Israeli mother of two who started her career as a model. Before her modelling career, Gadot served two years in the Israeli Defense Forces as a combat instructor.
In an interview with People magazine she explains that her time as a soldier helped with her roles. After the military, Gadot began studying law while modeling for IMG Models. She was encouraged by her mother to compete in the Miss Universe 2004 pageant as Miss Israel.
Although she was engrossed in law, the continuous callbacks drew her to the movie industry and she landed roles in movies like “Fast and Furious,” where she performed her own stunts.
Unlike Gadot, Patty Jenkins has spent her career in the film industry. Over the past two decades she has bounced around various movie sets and is most well-known for her award winning film “Monster.” Eventually she was sought out by Warner Bros. to direct their third in a trilogy of movies leading to “Justice League.”
After signing on, Jenkins made it known that she wanted to be involved in the casting process, but the Warner Bros. agents had already found Gadot.
Although not a part of the casting process, Jenkins admits that the casting agents did a much better job than she could have saying, “I don’t know that I would have scoured the earth as hard to find her. I don’t know that I would’ve looked internationally. I would have just looked for an American Girl.” Jenkins describes Gadot as sharing, “…every quality with Wonder Woman.”
“I think more diverse stories will cause you to hire more diverse writers [and] will cause you to hire more diverse directors,” she said in an interview with Variety. “Obviously, the audience is there.”
This summer, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its newest addition of 774 new members from over 50 countries. This action was in an effort to diversify the organization’s majority white, male membership. After two years of white-only nominees in the actor categories of the Oscars, The Academy started getting some pushback from the public.
In 2016, Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith boycotted the awards show and received support from other members of the film industry. African American director Spike Lee spoke up in an Instagram post saying, “How is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year all 20 contenders under the actor category are white?”
The Academy heard the complaints and made changes in their membership. Including Gadot, 46 percent of the 774 new members are women and 41 percent are people of color. This movement to diversify its members was created by the organization’s president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and is known as A2020.
“We were not going to wait for others. We had been looking at this organization for a long time and we recognized changes need to be made; one of them was more inclusion. Today represents a major step toward that goal of inclusion,” Boone Isaacs said during the announcement of the 2017 member additions.
Thanks to people like Gadot, Boone Isaacs, and Jenkins, the future of the film industry looks like a more diverse place, just like the audiences it caters to.