The Women in Entertainment Summit inspires producers, directors, writers and actresses.
Amid the changing Hollywood landscape, women are seizing the opportunity to take center stage. Individuals in the entertainment industry gathered on Thursday, Oct. 11 to attend Women in Entertainment’s (WIE) fourth annual summit. The audience bustled in the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles to listen to prominent women in the entertainment industry as they addressed the importance of making their voices heard.
The purpose of the annual summit is to bring together a multitude of individuals from various parts of the entertainment industry to discuss key issues concerning women in the field. Some of the issues discussed were inclusion, diversity, the wage gap, the #MeToo movement and the future of the industry.
Madeline Di Nonno, Chief Executive Officer of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and panel facilitator, said WIE is not only a single-day effort, but an effort to continue an ever-going conversation.
“I think it’s wonderful what [WIE] is doing on a national scale…convening on so many levels,” DiNonno said. “[We] are having great success, but we need to move a lot quicker into this parity—not only gender, but in intersectionality. We want all women to come forward.”
The summit was a full day of keynotes, one-on-one “fireside chat” interviews and panels each centered on a different aspect of the entertainment industry. Several “fireside chats” included notable individuals like Nina Tassler, Marta Kauffman, Lauren Graham and Denise Shull. The panel topics included issues such as inclusion in media, driving engagement and storytelling, transformative content and the power of money.
One of the panelists was film producer Susan Cartsonis, who produced “What Women Want,” the second-highest domestic grossing romantic comedy of all time. Her films have grossed more than one billion dollars in the box offices by creating content geared toward female audiences. She expressed the importance of women inclusivity and representation.
“[Movies are] something I believe passionately in, and I have since I was a little girl, because I loved to be entertained by characters who were a somewhat representation of me,” Cartsonis told ZuNews. “I have a very strong sensitivity to the notion of representation––representation of gender and…of every other aspect of human experience.”
In a “fireside chat,” actress, producer and author Lauren Graham discussed her experience in the industry, from her rise to stardom on “Gilmore Girls” to her current projects. She shared her philosophy that individuals must work for what they want to achieve.
“Everyone has a dream, so you need to work really really hard,” Graham said.
WIE did not only impact the audience but also impacted the speakers. Raelle Tucker, a writer and producer who has worked on television shows such as True Blood, Jessica Jones and Supernatural, spoke to ZuNews about what WIE means to her.
“I think it’s so important that women come together at forums like this and talk about some of the issues…that we’re all dealing with. It can become very isolating at times,” Tucker said. “Coming together with these other incredible women who face the same struggles, but seeing that we’re all sort of moving in the same direction is incredibly empowering.”
WIE also caused Tucker to reflect on her own past experiences.
“I realized that I was doing the same job as other men on the show, but I was being paid less. I felt the need to say, ‘Well, I don’t do this for the money. I’m an artist!’ And that’s true, but why should I be paid less than the man sitting next to me for doing the same job,” Tucker said. “I felt like I had to be okay with taking less money because I was just grateful for the opportunity…Then I found out that other women are going through the exact same struggles, and I thought, that has to change.”
Cartsonis echoed Tucker’s sentiments when it comes to the power of numbers and of speaking up.
“[We must] presume that the future is female and that we are all in it together, because there is power in numbers and we’ve seen that time and time again,” Cartsonis said. “Women have a tendency to be less pushy and more modest about our accomplishments, so we need to speak up for each other.”
WIE provided a space for individuals to question current standards in place while furthering knowledge about women, relatability and intersectionality within the entertainment industry.
“It’s particularly important [we have representation] in media,” Cartsonis said. “We need representation and we need inclusion and we need diversity, and it’s really important that what we put out there invites people to be a part of different stories.”