Kerry Washington, Patty Jenkins, and Laura Karpman Talk Taking Risks and Supporting Women in Film

Culture

Products You May Like

Believe in yourself, take risks, and don’t let traditional measurements of success (which are often upheld by old white men) dictate your own. These were just some of the nuggets of wisdom shared by Kerry Washington, Patty Jenkins, and composer Laura Karpman at the Tribeca Chanel Through Her Lens conversation Friday at the Crosby Street Hotel in New York City. Moderated by filmmaker and journalist Perri Peltz, the trio spoke on the obstacles women face in the film industry and the importance of mentoring and supporting new filmmakers—something the Through Her Lens program is dedicated to doing.

“The problem is that we’ve been in a world where only one type of story has been allowed for a very long time, and we’re also in an industry that’s rear-facing, so as long as you are basing what is going to succeed on past data, then it means that you’re blocking all of these other stories’ abilities to come in,” said Jenkins, who famously directed the Wonder Woman films and Monster. “We can’t save the world if people’s voices aren’t being allowed to contribute to that.”

She encouraged people to share at the start of their filmmaking careers: “We need your stories, we need all people’s stories.”

She also touched on the notion of progress in Hollywood, and how it isn’t as drastic as we think it is. “There has been the illusion of progress in putting people in positions, right? But actually there has been almost no progress in having confidence in other people’s stories,” she said.

“I was traveling with [director and screenwriter] Gina Prince-Bythewood, when she did The Woman King, trying to do as many screenings for her as possible. I knew she wasn’t gonna get nominated. I knew it because I said, ‘They’re never gonna watch her movie because it’s got ‘woman’ in the title, and that’s the truth.’

“I can’t tell you how many Academy events I’ve been to where every Academy member says to me, ‘Oh, my daughter loves [your film]. I haven’t seen it, but my daughter loves your film.’ They didn’t watch it. You can tell from the screeners and things. They didn’t watch it.”

If men’s stories are seen as universal, why can’t everyone else’s be? Jenkins challenged that particular notion. “I love men’s films. I love men’s stories, but there’s room for so much more,” she said. “And all of us have trained ourselves to see universality through the eyes of men. But nobody is training everybody to see them through every anybody else in the world.”

new york, new york june 07 l r laura karpman, kerry washington, patty jenkins and perri peltz, all wearing chanel, speak onstage during the tribeca and chanel through her lens conversation at crosby street hotel on june 07, 2024 in new york city photo by dimitrios kambouriswireimage

Dimitrios Kambouris

Laura Karpman, Kerry Washington, Patty Jenkins, and Perri Peltz.

Washington shared just how important it is to see those stories, especially as a mother to Black children.

“Because I have two daughters, there was a very special magic to the fact that Wonder Woman and Black Panther came out around the same time, because their intersectionality as girls and as Black kids was so honored in both of those films,” she said. “That they got to see all of their femininity empowered, all of their Blackness empowered….To be a mom raising Black girls in a time when those films exist is such an asset. Because my mom had to tell me, ‘You can do anything, you’re a superhero,’ but I had to take her word for it. Because pop culture at large was not mirroring that message.”

Representation “is important because it’s humanity,” she added. “I think that’s what scares people about inclusion, is we get scared about everybody being honored and mattering in the same ways.”

Laura Karpman, a veteran, Emmy-winning composer who most recently earned an Oscar nomination for American Fiction, said the gender disparity is even more bleak among film composers. She proposed that one way to make change is through “work stoppages,” while another is through advocating for inclusion in voting bodies.

“When I got into the Academy in 2015, I was the third woman composer admitted, and I was the first one in 20 years,” she said. “I got an Oscar nomination this year; I was the sixth woman ever nominated in music composition. But four of them have been in the past years since we diversified our branch. So what happens is that if you actually diversify these voting blocks, and then you get results.”

new york, new york june 07 l r laura karpman, kerry washington, patty jenkins and perri peltz, all wearing chanel, speak onstage during the tribeca and chanel through her lens conversation at crosby street hotel on june 07, 2024 in new york city photo by dimitrios kambouriswireimage

Dimitrios Kambouris//Getty Images

Washington is renowned for her work on Scandal now, but she remembers, at the time, showrunner Shonda Rhimes was met with a lot of doubt when it came to launching the show.

“When Shonda wrote the pilot for Scandal, everybody, including the network that aired it, called it a risk. Because there hadn’t been a Black woman in the lead of a network drama in the last 40 years,” Washington recalled. “And I remember at the time feeling insulted by that word. But I actually think when we are at our best as creative people—what we do is take risks. And I think a lot of times the studio or the streamers are terrified to take risks. A risk means you’re going out side your comfort zone to do something that’s never been done before, and you’re not sure that it’s gonna work, but you believe in it enough to to try.”

Karpman later added, “I don’t think any of us are a risk, because we’re all so good, we really know what we’re doing, we understand our craft, we are experts at this.”

Closing the conversation, the panelists imparted some wisdom with the crowd. Jenkins shared how important it is for women in the industry to mentor one another and teach “each other leadership and how to manage a set, how to get things done.”

Karpman added that “literally just helping people with language” and advising them on how to speak more confidently makes a huge difference. That and sharing “how to be in a room with people who are going to try to dominate and intimidate you.”

And Washington offered what she called a bit more “unconventional” (but equally important) advice: “Take care of yourself.”

Jenkins, Washington, and Karpman were also present at a luncheon at The Greenwich Hotel, where Tribeca and Chanel fêted another year of the Through Her Lens program. Notable attendees included Jane Rosenthal, Selma Blair, Katie Holmes, Rachel Weisz, Christy Turlington, Ashley Benson, Dianna Agron, Joey King, Camila Mendes, Chase Sui-Wonders, Emily Mortimer, Jenny Slate, and more.

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Kate Middleton Shares Letter to Apologize for Missing Pre-Trooping the Colour Event During Cancer Treatment
Eccentric Exercise Is the Easiest Way to Build More Muscle During Your Workouts
All About Zendaya’s Siblings
Jake DuPree Puts the Fun in This 45-Minute Total-Body Workout For All Levels
Everything We Know About Kristen Stewart’s New Astronaut Show The Challenger

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *