Heather Graham to Take on Hollywood in Directing Debut
Equality in Hollywood is slowly moving forward. Yet for every two steps forward there is always a step back. This year saw one of 2017’s biggest tent pole films directed by a woman and open to both critical and commercial success. Yet despite the strides made by Patty Jenkins with Wonder Woman there is still a vast inequality in the industry.
Variety reported at the beginning of the year that women compromised of just 7% of directors working on the 250 highest grossing films. This number is unlikely to change by much by the end of this year.
One actress who has decided to tackle sexism in Hollywood head on is Heather Graham. In an interview with Digital Spy, Graham confirmed that she has written and directed a film “about being a woman in the entertainment business.” The film is called Half Magic and stars Stephanie Beatriz. Despite the topical subject she has found the film a challenge to get made. In the interview she highlighted a common misconception that seems established in Hollywood: “people say that female-driven movies don’t make money, when it’s not true, obviously. There are movies out there that are making money… but it’s not as common that they’ll green-light movies with female leads.”
Despite acting for over 30 years and starring in some of Hollywood’s most bankable franchises including The Hangover film series and the second Austin Powers film it was only recently that she found the inspiration to write and direct her own film. Her inspiration came from fellow actresses including Lena Dunham, Sharon Horgan, Rashida Jones, and Issa Rae who have written and directed.
Graham certainly has a sense of humor about her image in Hollywood (she has played several characters that are sex symbols) and is known for telling jokes on Twitter. In recent months she has been promoting her latest role as the new face of Foxy Bingo and told Digital Spy that she was attracted to the humor of the brand. The latest advertisement features Graham in a bubble bath using some northern English colloquialism while other adverts have seen her interacting with fans.
As Graham moves forward with her film there are signs of slight changes happening in the industry. Female producers are pulling the strings behind this year’s biggest films (Kathleen Kennedy – Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Emma Thomas – Dunkirk) and two of the most critically acclaimed dramas, and potential Oscar winners, were directed by Kathryn Bigelow (Detroit) and Sofia Coppola (The Beguiled). Another welcome trend in Hollywood is that more actresses are turning their hand to directing films. Angelina Jolie has directed four films with her fifth due out later this year, while Jodie Foster has directed four films and episodes from Orange Is The New Black and House of Cards.
Is it enough to change the tide in Hollywood? The answer is still probably no. There is still a huge disparity between pay, as discussed here on Her Culture, and the opportunities available for women to make films. Kathryn Bigelow, the only woman to win an Oscar for Best Director released a statement to Time in May 2015 that declared: “Hollywood is supposedly a community of forward thinking and progressive people yet this horrific situation for women directors persists. Gender discrimination stigmatizes the entire industry. Change is essential. Gender neutral hiring is essential.” In 2017, the challenge is still there. Hopefully Heather’s Graham film will bring further light on the position of women in Hollywood.