We are now in a creative and diversity moment about the themes we celebrate In the audiovisual industry.
In reference to female evolution in narratives, we’ve managed to go beyond the old stories we were told and have created new stories occupying a fundamental position in our culture now.
We create true stories by looking, breaking rules, themes that were prohibited in the past. We have generated a social opening and an invitation to a more inclusive, irreverent, questioning and honest attitude.
In a session of questions and answers with four recognized executives with a vast experience in the entertainment market, we have asked them their vision regarding how to approach the female topic in today’s productions, the way to get to different consumers and the diversity of the teams creating audiovisual contents.
Ana Piñeres, Vice-president, General Manager and Creative Producer of CMO Producciones, Colombia; Solange Cruz, Executive Director of Casablanca, Brasil; Valentina Párraga, writer, United States; and Paola Suárez, VP of Development and Production of Jaque Content, Argentina, give us their point of view about these topics.
VN: Women have developed new and diverse roles in modern society and our industry has witnessed endless voices that have come alive. What is your perception regarding characters evolution and female themes on the screen?
AP: Today more than ever women are protagonists of passionate and inspiring stories that reach millions of TV screens around the world.
We look at heroines who tell us stories in their own world about fiction connecting with many viewers: avengers, justice, powerful or victims that being resilient show us the way to overcome human challenges that create empathy and make the viewers fall in love.
Also, today more than ever, the abuse, the bullying, femicide, machismo and other big topics seen before from the male point of view or with denying discretion are being taking to the screen in the front line, challenging, entertaining, which makes people fit in the main character’s shoes and make them follow those stories.
SC: I have seen a huge evolution of female themes on current screens, not only in the movies but also in the series that are being broadcasted in the major streaming platforms. If you pick the top ten series today, the majority presents us with female main characters.
Netflix’s Rebecca, The Queen’s Gambit, Enola Holmes, Bom Dia Veronica (Brazilian series), Ratched; Amazon`s Little Fires Everywhere; Apple`s Teheran, and so on. In the HQ`s, heroes that were a man`s territory, also gave us Jessica Jones, Super Girl, among others. The female themes are on screen and also behind the stage too. As a professional working in production myself for more than 25 years, I see more and more women working as Directors, Editors, Executive producers, and they are all very competent and skillful.
In my opinion, we women deserve this place in this industry thanks to our hard work.
VP: It’s been a passionate process, especially for us baby boomers’ writers, who are delighted and proud for this female characters revolution, especially because we became professionals during those far away days where stories about Cinderellas who were finally rescued by their prince charming and were happilly ever after, but spent the whole story believing the lies of the wicked.
We now see the diversity in the main characters in race, backgrounds, styles, they don’t dream of being anybody’s wife, they fight for their place in the world, they make mistakes, they’re not always successful, but they leave footprints beyond the prejudices of home, maternity and the classic family.
Falling in love and staying with someone is more an accident than a determining fact for these real and three-dimensional women, we’ll see in these new stories.
PS: The evolution I see is that at least we think about this situation. I don’t know if there’s evolution on how we approach certain themes in general. As a matter of fact, we still watch movies and series today with those patriarchal practices. So, I say to myself: it’s still happening.
To me, evolution is based on how we rethink and question about this, but I don’t think they stopped producing them.
We continued seeing scenes where women are still an object or a topic of discussion, for example, among two men. And I could give you more examples.
VN: History has shown us that women have won an important place regarding equality, but there’s still a way to go. Therefore, it’s important that characters not only have the opportunity to tell us their stories, but also to capture various groups attention, generating empathy, achieving a paradigm change and advancing to a more equitable society. Do you consider that today female characters attract equality people from diverse genders?
AP: I definitely think that fiction stories where the main character are women is getting to male audience. The way we tell stories today requires additional ingenuity and have a mixture of elements to unite us as viewers, regardless our gender.
Women in the middle of the action, police series, investigation cases, the adrenaline of the content men like that have made the fight for the remote control easier and have let us equally enjoy the TV offers given to us.
SC: I think that there are no gender preferences when you have a good story, a consistent script, and a correct production. Telling women’s stories through the eyes of Women`s Directors, this female’s touch delivers sensibility, kindness, and sometimes subtlety colors that no man could tell. The female characters attract everybody. Strong women make an impact on women’s morals and attract men’s interest. Every woman sees herself and projects her dreams on strong characters. They can live their aspirational desires through their heroines. Men, women, children, old people, LGBTs, every human being, no matter what sexual tendency, love a good and well told story.
VP: Definitely, because those women have much more to say, they’re more proactive and energetic and they’re more interesting than the soft and feminine classic main characters.
I also believe, based on my personal experience, that this change in perception of women comes accompanied by the new millennial and urban men acceptance that was raised by a strong and single mother.
This new man understands and accepts the equally leading role of female characters in the screens today and emphasizes with them.
PS: To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s a female or male character, but with the topic they’re touching.
Sometimes you see that a strong character attracts you, no matter if you’re a woman, a man, a non-binary gender. That’s where the character’s power, her three-dimensionality and complexity is.
I think there are certain characters, especially in some territories and cultures, where women have to be a certain way and men too.
Let’s remember that patriarchy is not only bad for women. It’s a social damage.Men have to be strong, have to be the provider, they can’t express sensibility, and that they’re only there to reproduce, which is a big responsibility. Women are meant for other things, including violence situations.
I believe there are certain cultures where women are put in a desirable place, and that place is not being herself. On the contrary, is to follow social mandates and preestablished positions like getting married, being a mother and have a husband that provides and belongs to a “good” economic status. That’s their aspiration.
It’s also interesting to see what happens when women are empowered. Because if they’re empowered but they’re reproducing the patriarchy and authoritarianism and certain logic of machismo, it doesn’t make any sense. She becomes a patriarchal woman.
To me, what we have to find is new ways of relating, of being friendlier to stay in the world and it has to do with a new social cosmovision.
VN: You’ve had to form teams and work alongside them throughout your professional career originating blockbusters. From your experience, do you think there has been an increase in the demand for female writers in the development and production teams?
AP: That information is both long and wide, but the producers and TV channels know that a female writer for this type of content will always give the truth and strength to give authenticity to their fiction stories.
I also applaud the growing policies of equality and diversity promoted by TV channels and producers. In CMO’s case, this gender ingredient and the diverse talents have always been important, it’s our ideal team.
SC: Yes of course, As I wrote above, some female’s subtleties require a feminine look. And the production team is naturally adjusted in this flow. That’s the reason why the audience identifies themselves with these contents.
VP: I would like to think that’s the way it is, but if it’s not that way, it would be an interesting move that network executives include more female young writers in their creative staff.
This new woman has more challenges than we ever had, and we need this young and kaleidoscopic point of view in this difficult world this new generation of women have to live.
But let’s not forget that female writers have been working in creative departments since the 60’s and we have given the industry great topics and blockbusters.
We need to recognize those pioneering romance creators like Delia Fiallo, Celia Alcántara, Caridad Bravo Adam among many. They were forgers of the first female archetypes.
And “Mónica”, “María”, “Cristal”, “Kasandra”, “Leonela” are the founders of these new warriors and amazons who struggle to survive in these harsh and dystopian times.
PS: Until society becomes even and fairer and at the same level, it’s necessary to have these writers to tell the stories in a certain way. If you want to tell the story of a woman in Sweden or Asia or the United States, if you are an immigrant, it’s very difficult to tell if you haven’t been in their shoes or felt that way, because at the end of the day our lives and stories are the way we live in this world.
I always say the same: how are you going to talk about how somebody feels when their feet are in the mud when you’ve always had yours in the asphalt?
I believe you need to have a diverse team. And I’m referring to women, men, non-binary genres and transgenders. Having diverse teams will promote diversity and that’s where something different and powerful will be created.
Evidently, team’s diversity is the key when getting a genuine, seductive and full story. Looking at the past and the present we could confirm that every time we have a bigger percentage of female writers, producers, editors and directors in the industry. This trend encourages us to double our efforts to continue advancing in the professional field.
The bestseller author of the recent book “Cassandra Speaks” and founder of Omega Holistic Institute, Elizabeth Lesser, says: “When women are the storytellers, the human story changes”.