On October 26, I attended TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast, which took place at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. The event was attended by leaders of the movie studios and TV networks, agents, managers, writers, directors, actors, and publicists like myself and my colleagues. It was a very interesting experience to attend this event, which focused on discussing the women’s rights, women’s representation within the entertainment business, and the most recent topic, sexual harassment. While I have recognized only a couple of people sitting in the hotel’s conference room with me, it was intriguing to hear two female powerhouses in the entertainment industry, Pearlena Igbokwe and Jennifer Salke (President of Universal Television and President of NBC Entertainment respectively) talk about their experiences. More shocking were the personal accounts of models, actresses and TV personalities experiences with sexual harassment. Below are two topics which have been discussed in relation to female power:
Media influences our mindset
This is not rocket science. In fact, I wrote my Bachelor Thesis about the representation of femininity and masculinity in The Big Bang Theory. Having talked with multiple people about this topic while writing the piece, it was eye-opening to hear people’s varying opinions. The speakers at yesterday’s event talked about their personal experiences in the entertainment industry and how they aim to change the current point of view. While three of the speakers were influential women, it was very interesting to hear that they still DO encounter resistance when making decisions which would challenge the current portrayal of females in the entertainment industry. I thought to myself: “Hold on, you are two very powerful females, how is it possible you are still being challenged?” Call me naïve. They mentioned that the issue is that while they are in the position to be able to change the mindset, the issue is that they are not yet taken seriously by their male counterparts, which makes their jobs more difficult. Only once that happens will they have a full power to make a change.
The incorrect perception that sexuality is needed to succeed in entertainment
Sexual harassment was a big part of the discussion and while I am not going to call anyone out here, I was surprised to see females come forward and talk very openly about their personal experiences. While sitting at the event, I got a message from my friend who is an actress and she told me that after talking publicly about this issue, a reporter from a high-end magazine called her out and told her that she is the last to talk, given her previous professional images were a little provocative. I could not believe what I was hearing. The issue with today’s society is that if a woman dresses up nicely, people assume that she does so with the attention of attracting someone. And we all know all the negative connotations this brings, with female often being shamed for their behavior. I think the lesson here is that people need to be less passive and start taking an action to make sure that females have a freedom of expression, with no fear of being ostracized for it.