Anonymous Studio Exec on How to Fix Hollywood's Female Director Problem: "Fear and Money"

The industry's "whirlwind' response to two years of all-white acting nominations suggests a new way to put the focus on gender inequity: "Nobody feels the sting of shame over this situation."

After literally decades, the question of why there is such a gender gap in the entertainment industry has become one of those queries for which there never seems to be a substantive or satisfying answer. It's as though this dilemma has been around for so long that solution-based answers aren't even sought.

We all have seen what happened when the question of why there wasn't more diversity in the movies being made — particularly Oscar contenders — was put in the spotlight. What started with a very pointed hashtag created two years ago was amplified in 2016 by Jada Pinkett Smith's criticism on social media, all eventually sending the Academy and the industry into a tailspin. There was a whirlwind of activity and resolutions that moved through institutions at breakneck speed. Suddenly, the member rosters could be more reflective of the culture, new Academy governors could be put in place without being elected, and all kinds of announcements and pronouncements were made. Whether the films this year are the result of these actions doesn't matter — the perception is that because of the boycott threats and the subsequent publicity, things changed.

But we never have seen the gender issue politicized at this level. No high-profile actress (or husband of one) ever has tweeted out #OscarsSoMale and threatened to organize a boycott. Nobody feels the sting of shame over this situation. Perhaps the fact that we had an African-American president of the U.S. and an African-American (female) president of the Academy made the situation over the past two years seem even more urgent. But Hollywood is fueled by two things: fear and money. If we felt we would be put on notice for not hiring women, that fear would lead to action. And if the action led to box office or Oscar nominations, you can bet that hiring women to direct, write and more would be the law of the land.

This story first appeared in the Feb. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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