Letter From the Editor

 

In 1992, The Hollywood Reporter published its first Women in Entertainment list. No one was ranked (though Kay Koplovitz, president and CEO of USA Networks, was the first mentioned), Amy Pascal was then executive vp production at Columbia (our writer said, “If the grapevine has any credibility, she will one day end up a studio president”), and producer Marcy Carsey — then palling around with President-elect Bill Clinton — was noted for selling The Cosby Show into syndication (“the most lucrative deal in TV history”).

Despite the 125 esteemed participants named, their stories still revealed the challenges of being female in Hollywood. According to DGA statistics that year, men outnumbered women 9,759 to 1,875, or about 84%-16%; this year, it’s 77%-23% — better but hardly parity. The WGA then said female members of all ages earned less than 70 cents for every dollar earned by a white male under 40.

Amy Adelson, then a vp at ABC Prods., said in that issue that she was constantly reminded of her gender, particularly at the monthly luncheons sponsored by the Hollywood Radio & Television Society. “The only place where you find fewer women is on a professional football team,” she said. “It’s completely demoralizing.”

One producer was more blunt about dealing with an almost all-male biz: “I deal like a man. That means I say ‘f---’ a lot on the phone.”

Today, women run three studios and many TV networks. They’re not just heading divisions; they’re at the epicenter of power. Given this, some might ask, why do we still focus on Women in Entertainment?

That’s easy. The Power 100 list is a chance to celebrate how far women in the industry have come. But, more importantly, it also forces everyone to consider how to move forward.

And here the need remains great. Not for the lucky women from educated, affluent families — for whom success is not always easy but made to feel at least attainable — but for girls from all backgrounds.

That’s why, last year, THR’s Stephen Galloway launched a mentorship program in association with the nonprofit Big Brothers Big Sisters. It was a chance, he believed, to bridge the gap between the two cities of Los Angeles: the small, rarefied world of this industry and the far larger spread of people, particularly young ones, looking in from the outside.

Together we set up a pilot program, selecting 12 girls, largely from modest backgrounds, and paired them with 12 women from our Power 100 list.

Would the girls make the transition to a glittering new environment? And how would the women and girls bond?

Initially, many of the girls were so paralyzed by shyness they didn’t ask questions or show the initiative their mentors expected; mentors, in turn, found it challenging to connect with unformed teens from such different worlds.

Then, about six months in, everything changed. The girls started to relax, their mentors responded, and the impact was clear. Nearly all of our mentees have seen their GPAs soar. Nearly all are dreaming of attending major universities. Nearly all have come to believe that anything is possible.

This must be Women in Entertainment’s focus moving forward. Not just to revel in our own achievements but to help others achieve, too.

Janice Min
Editorial Director, The Hollywood Reporter

 

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