Naomi McDougall Jones, a New York-based activist, producer, writer, and actor, delivered a talk on Hollywood and what it means to be a woman working in the film industry for a TEDx event.
She introduces the talk by telling her audience she's going to "begin with a story," and "end in a revolution." The story is a personal one, and follows her path to becoming an actor while being raised by a feminist mother. With this background, Jones entered the film industry with a desire to play complex and complicated characters like her idol Meryl Streep, roles that she soon realized were not readily available to her. Rather, she found herself auditioning for roles where the character was simply named "Female," and little or no dialogue was required. Other roles included a man's conventionally attractive love interest, and a mother whose "only purpose in life is to tend to her husband."
When she went to her agent with her concerns, she was advised to wait until she was about 35 to have more opportunities for the roles she desired. Rather than wait for her image to suit Hollywood, Jones and another actor decided to make their own film, which would star the complex women that they craved to spotlight. Repeatedly, they were told that their film would flop, however they chose to move forward with it anyway -- resulting in much critical praise. Following the release of her film, Jones continued to speak out about the sexism that lingers deep in Hollywood, and was often warned of the consequences that were likely to follow.
Jones continues her talk by examining the shocking statistics that are associated with the American film industry specifically, to further examine the impact that the media has on its viewers and the normalization of objectification and a lack of representation that it promotes. To combat this, Jones says that people can't just wait around for Hollywood to "grow a conscience," as this isn't likely to happen anytime soon.
She concludes by introducing a four point plan for a revolution, which starts with watching the movies that are made by women more often, which are easy to find by going to the database MoviesByHer.com. The second point is to encourage more women to make films, so that they can tell the stories that matter. Thirdly, she says that female filmmakers need to invest in each other, and that audiences need to invest in them. Lastly, Jones says that they need to disrupt the market, so that the gap in the industry is taken advantage of.
Disrupting the Film Industry
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Sexism in Hollywood
Leveraging Smartphone Broadcasting
Identifying as a Leader