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7 Badass Female Directors you Should Know About

Photo by Ahmet Yalçınkaya


Awards season is great for a lot of reasons. It is a time to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of people on the big and small screens, musicians and all the people who work behind the scenes to make the media industry possible. While awards season sheds light on the past year’s music, television and film achievements, it also sheds light on the many social issues with which Hollywood still struggles.


One of the issues that has drawn attention as recently as the Academy Awards last month is the underwhelming amount of female nominations in the director’s category.


In the entire history of the two major award shows honoring films, The Golden Globes and The Oscars, women have only been nominated in the “Best Director” category seven and four times, respectively. Even more unsettling, only one woman has ever won per award.


The scarcity of female nominations in the Director’s category is reflective of the number of female directors in Hollywood collectively.


According to a 2017 report by Vanity Fair, the ratio of male directors to female directors in Hollywood is 24 to 1. However, the world’s attention is starting to shift towards the underrepresentation of the achievements of female directors. Socially-conscious celebrities like Natalie Portman and Emma Stone were bold enough to publicly call out the gender imbalance in this year’s nominations. Though these ladies received both positive and negative criticism regarding their decision to speak so truthfully, the message has been received regardless of how others perceived it.


Though female directors in Hollywood are few and far between, the ones who do exist indisputably are not getting the attention they deserve. These creative and inspiring women, though infrequent in Hollywood, are working hard to represent the female population in the movie industry. In order to support these women, who work just as hard as their male colleagues, the world must first know who they are. Here are a handful of the talented and underrated female directors working to make a difference in the media industry:


  • Amy Berg: Berg is best known for her biographical movie, Janis: Little Girl Blue, which details the life of the late musician Janis Joplin and her struggles with substance abuse that ultimately led to her premature death. Also, Berg’s 2006 movie Deliver Us from Evil was one of the first films to bring attention to the prevalence of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.


  • Niki Caro: Caro is a New Zealander known for casting strong female leads for her movies. Her 2017 movie The Zookeeper’s Wife tells a true story of a couple whose bravery was responsible for saving the lives of hundreds of animals and people following the invasion of their city during World War II. Caro is also directing the upcoming live-action version of Mulan.


  • Ava DuVernay: DuVernay has been in the media lately for her newest movie, A Wrinkle in Time. In addition to being a director, she has worked as an executive producer on highly successful movies like Selma. DuVernay is one of the few black female directors in the Hollywood scene, and her avant-garde mind has brought attention to her for bringing unprecedented levels of diversity onto the big screen.


  • Patty Jenkins: Jenkins has directed in both film and television. Her latest project, the wildly popular Wonder Woman, had feminists everywhere rejoicing the debut of a steadfast and independent female superhero. Wonder Woman was widely perceived as the first superhero movie to capitalize on the ability of female superheroes to get the job done with little help from men.


  • Meera Menon: Menon is an Indian-American director who has worked on both movies and television. Several of Menon’s works, like the TV series, Blood Drive, tend to have darker themes that tend to be considered as “boys’ interests,” including car racing and zombie apocalypses.


  • Gina Prince-Bythewood: Prince-Bythewoods is awesome for several reasons, including being the first black woman to direct a superhero movie, which happens to be the upcoming Spiderman reboot called Silver & Black. Her works rely heavily on character development through diligence and determination.


  • Dee Rees: Rees is credited for telling stories of racial struggles in her works. Rees’ critically-acclaimed 2017 film Mudbound addresses how racism affected the ability of black and white World War II veterans to lead a normal life following their return home. Rees is directing an upcoming movie, An Uncivil War, which is about Gloria Steinem’s experience as a female journalist and feminist in the 1960’s and 70’s.
I am a first year student at the University of Kentucky majoring in Psychology and Writing, Rhetoric & Digital Studies. My favorite things to do are write and travel, and my dream job would be a travel writer because it combines both of my passions!
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