“An equal world is an enabled world.”
That’s the core theme driving this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrations, which annually recognize the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women all around the world every year on March 8.
“Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements,” reads the messaging on the IWD 2020 website.
“Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world. Let’s all be #EachforEqual.”
In celebration of IWD, we talked to female Toronto Film School alumni about what the day means to them, why it’s important to celebrate women’s achievements, and the experience of being a woman in the creative industries in today’s society.
1) What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day means a day of celebrating women and all the amazing things we’ve done in the world. Historically, women haven’t always been able to celebrate all their successes and the great things they’ve done in life, so I think it’s really great that we now have a designated day to celebrate all that we’ve done.
2) Why is it important for young women to be able to look up to female role models in the creative fields?
I think it’s important to have diverse voices – especially women – because as someone who’s grown up in a smaller town, I feel a lot of it was really male-driven. Now, through what I do in my industry, there are so many women who are succeeding and thriving, myself included. Working through Instagram, I see all these different types of women working and creating, and they’re really powerful, and I think that’s huge in today’s industry, to be able to follow these people and really feel inspired all over the world.
3) Advice for young women who might be afraid to pursue a career in a historically male-dominated field?
My advice to women in the creative industry is that if you believe in yourself enough, if you love what you do, if you really have a passion for it, you without a doubt can always do whatever you want in life, and your dreams can become a reality.
1) What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It means a lot of things, to be honest. Just like any celebration, it’s amazing to think that we have at least one day in a year where we celebrate women, where we celebrate the fact that, through history, women and men had to fight so that women could have certain rights that we take for granted nowadays…It’s amazing that we take time on this particular day to honour the women that we are, the women in our lives, and I’m happy to be a part of it.
2) Do you think it’s important for the film and television industry to include more powerful female characters on screen?
It’s a necessity. It’s always been a necessity, but now more than ever, it is a necessity for young women out there to be able to see female role models on TV and the big screen, and as they’re reading a book, and as they’re going through the newspaper and reading the politics section. Because by just drinking all of these stories in and being influenced by all these people, ultimately, you realize that you do have power. You have power to share who you are, and ultimately,you have the power to change things for yourself and for the people around you, for your community and your industry. So, it is a necessity to have strong, female role models out there.
3) Advice to young women wanting to follow in your footsteps to become an actor?
If I had to give a piece of advice to young female artists out there who are doubting themselves, who are unsure if this path is for them, I would say start small. If starting small for you means opening up to your best friend, or mother or father about a certain situation you’ve kept secret for a long time, do that. Every time you break down a barrier for yourself, it will become easier to share who you are with the world. We need your voice, so just try and surround yourself with good people. There are good people in this industry, and it’s just fantastic to connect and create with one another, and ultimately inspire other people to grow.
1) Why do you think it’s important for people to see strong, female characters on screen?
I think it’s important to portray how you feel, your perspective…I believe in equal things and I grew up in a family where I was always taught that you should never feel less than a man, and I don’t feel less than a man.
2) You recently won a Woman Filmmakers Award of Recognition from the Accolade Global Film Competition. How did that make you feel?
To be honest, I felt great. It’s a male dominant industry, and to be honoured as a woman director, it was something. You feel good. You feel good that there is a category where they’re trying to promote women directors, and winning that was a wonderful thing.
3) Advice to women who may feel intimidated about pursuing a career in the entertainment industry because it’s perceived as a male-dominated industry?
I’d say just feel like an equal, learn to dream and then learn to fulfill your dream, and then you won’t really feel you’re competing with the ‘boys’ club’ because times are changing. I think men are now accepting women to be an equal part of the system. It’s just how you feel and how you look at it, and it can change. It takes time, but unless you change, you cannot expect the world to change.
1) What’s it like working with an all-female camera crew?
The show I’m working on currently has an all-female camera crew, which is a first for me in the union…and it’s really interesting to see how girls get the same job done, and it’s not even a longer day or anything. So, for anybody who thinks guys should be camera, they’re stronger, they can lift the camera and flip it this way and that, and do different modes – nothing is different other than feeling so comfortable on set. There’s not even a question of, ‘Does he like me?’ Or ‘Do I have to tell him I have a boyfriend so he’s not crushing on me all day?’ I don’t feel that on this set. It’s a different vibe.
2) What advice would you offer young women hoping to pursue a behind-the-scenes film career?
Try it. It’s not for everybody, but you’ll know so fast when you’re on set. The little wins in a day are what’s kept me in it…The people who are in it are in it because they love it, not for the money, because, to be honest, it’s not worth it for the money, if that’s all you’re in it for. You can’t even spend the money, you’re too busy, you don’t have time. You won’t know till you try it.
3) Do you think it’s more difficult, as a woman in the film industry, to find a work-life balance?
The family thing – as a female, that’s what I’m interested in. I work with a female, and I asked her ‘Where are you in your life situation? Do you have a boyfriend? Do you have a husband? Are you divorced?’ This is the stuff I’m super interested in, because there’s so much more to the job. It’s also about trying to fit this job that’s so labour intensive into what you thought life was supposed to be – the societal norm of getting married and having kids. I literally was raised with that thinking…but I know that, at this stage in my life, there’s no way I could raise kids the way my mom did. But then, that’s not the only way to raise a family, and I’m learning that through other females (in the industry).