Today is 8th March and we couldn’t miss an opportunity to celebrate International Women’s Day. And what better way to do so than by bringing up some exceptional trailblazers of our industry?
But before we get started with them, let’s talk about gender equality at VCNI.
What Gender Equality Looks Like at VCNI
We’re very open about the fact that diversity is one of our core values, and we encourage and celebrate the things that make us different. For that reason, we’re working hard to ensure a healthy mix of ages, cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations, and of course genders among our team members.
And our diversity initiatives are starting to show: Did you know that 56,1 percent of employees at VCNI are women? We’re proud of this number and we will also keep working to ensure equality for women in our company.
But gender equality within our ranks is not enough. VCNI wants to use our platform to create better professional opportunities for women around the world, as there’s still a lot of work to be done globally.
Women Pioneers in the Entertainment Industry
The entertainment industry, a place where women historically have struggled to find their place, is no exception.
This space is still very much dominated by men, who are usually hired first and paid more than their female counterparts. Though we still have a long way to go to ensure gender equality, the future looks promising—which is thanks, in large part, to the women who paved the way for their predecessors to be in this space.
We want to celebrate a few of those trendsetters by highlighting their stories, HERSTORIES.
Nadine Labaki (actress, director)
In the first place, we wanted to mention Nadine Labaki, a Lebanese actress, director, and activist—and a modern-day pioneer for the feminist movement who serves as an inspiration girls and women alike.
Labaki got her start in the industry in the early 2000s, with her work centering on bringing attention to political issues like war and poverty. She challenges viewers to examine their apathy towards vital issues like the refugee crisis, but Labaki is also known for bringing themes of feminism into her work.
She frequently highlights the female narrative in her pieces, typically by focusing on the stories of women in the Middle East. And Labaki recently made headlines after becoming the first female Arab director to be nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film Category in 2019.
Retta Scott (animator)
The world of animation has its own pioneer. Retta Scott was the first woman/female animator thanks to the production of Bambi in 1942. Before it was a job, drawing wildlife was already a hobby for her: she did it in Griffith Park in Los Angeles.
Bambi’s storyboards were just the beginning of a prolific career as a collaborator with Walt Disney (she participated in Dumbo or Fantasia) and also as a freelance artist, illustrating children’s books.
Alice Guy-Blaché (Director, producer)
If you’ve never heard her name, now’s the time to learn what Alice Guy-Blaché contributed to the film world. A pioneer in the truest sense of the word, Alice Guy-Blaché’s claim to fame is that she was the first woman to direct a movie. Her creation, La Fée aux Choux, dates back to 1896, and it was the start of her impressive career.
When Alice Guy-Blaché moved from France to the United States, she took another bold step: she began her own production company, Solax, in the early 1900s. To put things in perspective, Alice Guy-Blaché was making movies at time when women in the United States were still barred from voting.
As women tend to do, she wore more than just the director hat. Alice Guy-Blaché often did triple duty, directing, producing, and supervising the roughly one thousand films she made. Though she was overlooked at the time, her impressive contributions to the film industry are finally being recognized.
Carmen de Burgos (journalist, war correspondent, writer)
This Spanish woman, born in 1867 who signed under the pseudonym Colombine, was a prolific contributor to the main newspapers of her time, covering the Second Melillan campaign in 1909, for which she is considered the first war correspondent.
Among many other tasks, she dedicated her life to convincing society that the world would be much better if women were taken into account in all areas. Despite her great contribution to journalism, her work was erased from the Spainish history during the years of the dictatorship since she was a woman very committed to social causes and with a clear objective: to modernize society.
Shonda Rhimes (TV producer, screenwriter)
Another modern-day pioneer is Shonda Rhimes, who does it all—she’s a prolific television producer, screenwriter, and author. You probably know her as the creator, head writer, and executive producer of the wildly popular TV medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy—a fact that makes her the First Black woman showrunner of a Top 10 network series.
Rhimes is a master storyteller, known for dealing with taboo issues in society and casting roles in inclusive and relatable ways. Many consider her to be the next Oprah Winfrey, which brings us to our final female pioneer.
Mae West (actress, screenwriter, singer)
There couldn’t talk about female trailblazers without mentioning Mae West, whose legendary acting career spanned over seven decades. Her prolific work in vaudeville performances and Broadway shows led her to become the highest-paid film actress in the world for a time. These spectacles also cemented her status as a sex symbol at a time when being one was taboo.
Mae West wrote and produced plays, where her trademark double entendres and sexual independence were born. But perhaps what she did best was ridicule social attitudes, especially about sex. Her frank sensuality was continuously at odds with outdated views about what it meant to be a woman, and she celebrated female sexuality in her work.
However, her unashamed attitude towards sex created certain hardships for Mae West. She was a controversial figure during her lifetime, facing many problems. One of the most common was neverending censorship, and she even served an eight-day jail sentence for a too-risqué play.
Nowadays, everyone knows Mae West’s name and recognizes her contributions to film and beyond. One might argue that her acts of defiance against social norms have allowed other women to be unapologetically themselves.
Oprah Winfrey (show host, producer)
We could spend all day talking about the many achievements of Oprah Winfrey. Media mogul is the only way to describe Winfrey, who’s a talk show host, TV producer, actress, author, and philanthropist.
The “Queen of All Media” has become one of the richest and most influential women in the world, thanks to her long-running talk show and the creation of her TV network, OWN. Throughout her tenure, she’s earned distinctions such as the richest Black American of the twentieth century and North America’s first Black multi-billionaire.
Nan Winton (Newsreader)
The public service broadcasting in the UK (BBC) named this journalist newsreader in 1960, becoming the first female to read the news at the corporation on June 20, 1960.
Her naming was not free of debate: some people thought that women were “too frivolous to be the bearers of grave news”. Fortunately, the managers found Nancy Wigginton (her real name) serious enough to make them change their minds…
These women are just three of many others who deserve our thanks on International Women’s Day. We thank them—and the many others—who came before us, and we’re proud to celebrate all the female talent at VCNI and beyond during Women’s Month.