As part of our celebration of International Women’s Day, we’ve put together a list of some women creators you might want to watch out for. You might know some of them already, or you might recognize some from their acting rather than their writing, producing or directing. But all of them are going places.
Screenshot taken from YouTube
Chloé Zhao has been in the headlines recently after winning the 2021 Golden Globe Best Director prize for her film Nomadland. Not only is she the first Asian woman to take the award, but just the 2nd woman at all, after Barbra Streisand in 1984.
Nomadland explores the lives of nomadic workers across the US, who roam the country in RVs, searching for seasonal or temporary jobs. The film weaves together documentary with the fictionalized re-telling of real people’s stories. The cast is led by Frances McDormand as Fern, but also features real-life itinerant workers such as Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells playing versions of themselves.
Nomadland was Zhao’s third feature length film after Songs My Brothers Taught Me and The Rider. These too featured non-professional actors to bring authenticity to their stories. Songs My Brothers Taught Me explored life on a reservation and The Rider was the tale of a rodeo cowboy forced to find a new path in life following injury.
Next, Zhao will be moving far from the American Midwest of Nomadland and into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as she directs Eternals.
Screenshot taken from YouTube
Cinematographer Katelin Arizmendi has shot music videos for Leonard Cohen, Interpol and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. She has shot commercials for Givenchy, Levi’s, Airbnb and Rolex. She has a diverse list of shorts to her name, including Deep Blue, a coming-of-age story set in the Amish community. Her features include Cam, Swallow and Charm City Kings. Arizmendi is a dynamic and versatile cinematographer who loves to experiment with lighting.
Arizmendi’s next major project is Flint Strong. This biopic follows the story of Claressa Shields as she trains to compete at the London 2012 Olympics, where women’s boxing features for the first time. That was meant to go into production in spring 2020, but has been on a Covid-enforced hiatus. Hopefully we’ll get to see it soon!
Photo by Gage Skidmore
Whether as an actor, producer, or writer, the chances are very high that you will have come across Lena Waithe’s work. If I mention Bones, Boomerang, The Chi, Girls Room, Queen & Slim and Twenties, that’s just some of Waithe’s work. She was awarded the 2017 Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for the Master of None episode ‘Thanksgiving’. The episode was based on her own experience when coming out to her mother and the award was a first for an African-American woman.
Waithe is committed to championing people from marginalized communities and under-represented backgrounds in the filmmaking industry. And these are themes you can see in her work.
Her next project is Beauty, a movie telling the difficulties of a young Black woman in her desire to maintain her voice and identity after signing a recording contract.
Have you been enjoying Bridgerton? Do you love Grey’s Anatomy? Were you an avid fan of How to Get Away with Murder? Did you never miss an episode of Scandal? If that sounds like you, then you’re a Shonda Rhimes fan.
All of these shows came out of Shondaland, the production company founded by Rhimes in 2005. With diverse casts and character-driven conflict at the heart of their dramas, Shondaland productions are compulsive viewing.
Next up will be Inventing Anna, in 2021. It follows the story of an investigative reporter trying to uncover the elaborate con trick played on New York’s high society by the ‘fake heiress’ Anna Delvey.
But if you can’t wait until Inventing Anna’s release, maybe try Private Practice or Station 19, both of which were spun off of Grey’s Anatomy. Still Star-Crossed is a period drama, and there’s the legal drama For the People. And that’s just a taste of everything that Shonda Rhimes has produced.
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You might be familiar with Emerald Fennell for her performances in front of the camera. She was midwife Patsy Mount in the BBC’s Call the Midwife and she played Camilla Shand (later Camilla Parker Bowles) in Netflix drama The Crown, among other credits.
However, Fennell has recently started to both write and direct, too. Phoebe Waller-Bridge, whom you might recognize from Fleabag, brought her in to write the second series of Killing Eve. She also wrote and directed Promising Young Woman, a black comedy revenge drama that was aired at Sundance in 2020. Produced by Margot Robbie and starring Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman is hotly tipped for 2021 awards wins.
What’s next for Fennell? She wrote the book for the latest musical version of Cinderella that is due to open in London’s West End in April 2021 and she has written three novels for children, so maybe more of those?
Photo by Gage Skidmore
Olivia Wilde’s acting career has taken her from The O.C. to TRON, via New Jersey in House and Portland in Portlandia. But in addition to her acclaimed and extensive acting catalogue, Wilde has moved into directing, too.
Wilde has made shorts from 2011, but her debut feature film was Booksmart in 2018. It’s the witty, zippy tale of two girls’ attempts to squeeze every teenage experience they should have had into just one night, before they move on to study at Yale and Columbia. Booksmart was warmly received by both audiences and critics, and Wilde won the Independent Spirit Awards’ Best First Feature prize.
Those eager to see more of Wilde’s directing will be pleased to know that Don’t Worry Darling, a psychological thriller very different from Booksmart, wrapped filming in February 2021 and is now in post-production. Wilde has also been linked to a ‘female-centric’ Marvel film written by Katie Silberman, but we must wait to see what that’s about.
Photo by JustJohal
When Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You was omitted from the nominations for the Golden Globes, reactions ranged from disbelief to outrage. The snub was a wild and pointed contrast to the five star reviews and universal praise Coel’s sexual-consent drama–although it’s really much more than that–received. Lucy Mangan at the Guardian described it as an ‘extraordinary, breathtaking achievement without a false note in it’; Isobel Lewis at the Independent called it a ‘TV experience like no other.’ Variety and Screendaily were brimming with praise.
I May Destroy You was a TV sensation in 2020. With that came a place on Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020, a spot on British Vogue’s 2020 list of influential women and 4th place on the Powerlist of most influential people of African or African Caribbean heritage in the United Kingdom.
Coel started as a performance poet before attending the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Her graduation project, Chewing Gum Dreams, formed the basis of the TV show Chewing Gum, for which Coel won an acting BAFTA and the BAFTA Breakthrough award. You might also have seen her in Black Earth Rising or Black Mirror. Whether Coel will next be on our screens as an actor or a writer, or both, remains to be seen. But it will be exciting.
Zoë White’s filmography as cinematographer includes music videos for The National, Sigur Rós and Grizzly Bear. Her commercial clients include Maybelline, Bose and Under Armour. She worked on feature films Catfight, with Sandra Oh and Anne Heche, Princess Cyd, In the Radiant City and The Misogynists.
You are, however, most likely to have seen her work in The Handmaid’s Tale. White worked on 12 episodes of the adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel. She received an Emmy nomination for the cinematography of one of those episodes, ‘Holly’, in 2019.
White also worked on Westworld and you should look out for her next TV series, Hit and Run, which is waiting for its release date.