'Beyond the Lights' Director Gina Prince-Bythewood on ACLU Gender Discrimination Inquiry: "I Applaud Their Efforts"
The 'Love & Basketball' and 'Secret Life of Bees' helmer tells THR, "There is no acceptable explanation" for the low number of female directors who helmed top-grossing films.
Beyond the Lights director Gina Prince-Bythewood supports the ACLU asking for a government investigation into what it called discriminatory hiring of directors in Hollywood.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Prince-Bythewood, who also helmed Love & Basketball and The Secret Life of Bees, appears to cite the statistic referenced by the ACLU in its letters to state and federal agencies that in 2014 only 7 percent of the directors on the 250 highest-grossing films were women, a number that's two percentage points lower than it was in 1998.
"7%. Numbers don't lie, and the numbers don't change," Prince-Bythewood tells THR. "There is no acceptable explanation for it. Talent has no gender."
She is curious to see what will happen as a result of the ACLU sending letters to three state and federal agencies, urging them to investigate hiring practices in the film and TV industries that the civil-rights organization claims lead to "an underrepresentation of women directors."
"Let's see what the ACLU can do," Prince-Bythewood adds. "I applaud their efforts."
Earlier, Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow expressed her support for equality in response to the ACLU's push for a government investigation.
“I have always firmly believed that every director should be judged solely by their work, and not by their work based on their gender. Hollywood is supposedly a community of forward thinking and progressive people yet this horrific situation for women directors persists,” Bigelow said in a statement to Time.com. “Gender discrimination stigmatizes our entire industry. Change is essential. Gender neutral hiring is essential.”
Bigelow is the only female director to win a best picture Oscar, taking home the trophy in 2010 for The Hurt Locker.
Earlier this year, Prince-Bythewood was one of a handful of powerful women honored by the female-centric Athena Film Festival. Prince-Bythewood, fellow female director Jodie Foster, HBO Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins and Oscar-winning producer and then-Mandalay Pictures president, who has since joined STX Entertainment, Cathy Schulman were recognized for their leadership and creative accomplishments.
There, Prince-Bythewood said she thought it was "dangerous" that no women were nominated in the directing or writing categories at the Oscars and that none of this year's best picture nominees had a female protagonist.
She also said she feels a responsibility to help other women, reading scripts and going to screenings at film schools and festivals to find young talent. She tries to help them push their work to the next level by introducing them to the right people.
When news of the ACLU's gender-discrimination inquiry broke, Prince-Bythewood tweeted a link to the New York Times story about the news followed by "(wow)."