Ahead of Oscars, female filmmakers fight for recognition in Hollywood

Global Business

The lack of diversity in Hollywood is nothing new, but a new group of women are taking control of their own destiny. CCTV America’s May Lee reported this story from Los Angeles.

It’s not hard to see the common denominator in this year’s Oscar race — all the acting nominees are white and all the female movie directors this year were snubbed.


Source: Academy Awards database analyzed by CCTV America

University professor at California State University and social critic Shira Tarrant echoed the growing concern about Hollywood’s lack of diversity. Much of the problem, say insiders and experts, stems from decision makers at the top, who are mostly white men.

“If I had to boil it down to one word, I would say discrimination because we know better,” Tarrant said. “This isn’t to say that all white men are racist and sexist, but when there are mostly white men at the top. People think to replicate entertainment in their own image because they didn’t think to do anything else.”

The proof is in the numbers. According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, only 12 percent of all leading roles were female in 2014, and only 7 percent of the directors of last year’s 250 top-grossing films were women.

The trend is forcing women in Hollywood to literally take matters into their own hands. Cathryn Michon circumvented the studio system to make “Muffin Top”, a feature length comedy, with the motto: “Love yourself now, not five pounds from now.”

Ahead of Oscars, female filmmakers fight for recognition in Hollywood

Ahead of Oscars, female filmmakers fight for recognition in Hollywood

The lack of diversity in Hollywood is nothing new, but a new group of women are taking control of their own destiny. CCTV America's May Lee reported this story from Los Angeles.

Michon not only wrote, produced, directed, and starred in the movie, but she also partly funded the project using the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. The goal was $75,000, but she received more than $91,126.

“We reached 122 percent of our goal because this movie-ment for “Muffin Top” went viral, women mostly, but some men, really cared about it, wanted to be part of it,” Michon said.

The “movie-ment” that Cathryn mentions is a term coined by “Muffin Top” fans who supported the idea of having more films about women dealing with real issues, instead of unrealistic images that bombard them daily.

“Muffin Top” co-star and Tony award winning actress Merissa Jaret Winokur had an epiphany after making the film.

“Yeah, I was in the movie as a fun actress, but then as an audience member I was like oh my God, I’m doing it all wrong. Get off the spanx. I have my hair and my shoes, who needs undergarments!” she said.

But a movie can’t survive on a powerful message alone. It has to make money.

Women in Hollywood say they’ve brought in money equal to, and sometimes higher than, their male counterparts and will keep doing it if they’re just given the chance.

“I will challenge my industry to get it right in order to make money. I’m not making you do it because it’s the nice thing to do. Tt’s just good business for you to do this,” Michon said.