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THE PLEDGE- How to Get Out of Your Own Way and Start Kicking ASS

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MadelineMerrittBioPicMonth Five: Celebrating Each Other’s Achievements

As a woman in the entertainment industry you know that you have chosen one of the world’s most challenging endeavors. Yet you forge ahead on your journey of getting out of your own way and kicking ass. You are creating your own brand, your own content, and working towards making a living by adding your creative voice to the rapidly expanding world of entertainment. You may have been told you “can’t” do something “because you’re a woman”  yet still you forge ahead, persistent in pursuing your dream, constantly discovering new ways to move forward, to move past expectations and to define your own success. You are amazed by all the new ways you can win, all the ways you can create your own identity and all the ways you can expand your imagination to create content.

We are living in an era of a “do it your-self” industry, and women are forging ahead with new and surprising creations. Whether it is Jenna Marbles or Lena Dunham, women are no longer waiting for someone else to “discover” them but are creating their own stories and adding their voice to the creative dialogue in innovative and exciting ways. Women are re-creating their identity in the cultural dialog. Women everywhere have put on our thinking caps and have stepped out of the dark to become leading storytellers of our time. We are smart, sexy, bold, ugly, honest, energetic, innovative, mold-shattering and unstoppable!

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Photograph by Allan Peach, 2013

Are you catching onto a theme here? I aim to become an outspoken, enthusiastic, supportive, excited and encouraging cheerleader for women in entertainment. AND SO SHOULD YOU! A major part of the process of getting out of your own way and kicking ass is to also get out of the way of other women who are pursuing what you are pursuing. We need, we must; it is time that we became each other’s biggest cheerleaders, not biggest detractors.

There is the notorious stereotype of women who pursue power in any industry (and it is a stereotype because there is truth to it) of cutting each other down. This is definitely true in the entertainment industry, where there are fewer female roles and fewer women in leadership than our male counterparts. It is a power-scarcity complex, and many women possess it. The fear that there aren’t enough “slots” for women causes some women to viciously compete for the few that we perceive we have, and to cut each other down in the process.  We feel jealous, we feel competitive, and we don’t want to see another succeed if it means we won’t be able to as well.

Have you committed one of the sins against your fellow women in entertainment? (I KNOW I USED TO)

  1. Commented on successful woman’s looks. (“I don’t know HOW she made it when she’s SO xyz” or “didn’t she look xyz in that dress?”)
  2. Degraded how successful woman got her success. (“She only got that part because she did xyz” or “she’s only a successful producer because her parents are xyz”)
  3. Put down successful woman’s personality with NO personal experience (“She may be successful but she is such a xyz” and “I hear she is so xyz”)

I know it’s hard. We feel twinges of jealousy and experience long ingrained feelings of lack of worth when we see others succeed and they aren’t, well, ourselves. We have worked so hard for so long and want our heart’s desire so much. But when we cut down other women in entertainment we do two things.

  1. We are taken off our personal journey of success by comparing ourselves to another person. (You have your own personal journey that is unique to you. Your story is your story and nobody else’s so value it; treasure it. Stop comparing yourself to others and build your self-esteem. Embrace yourself!)
  2. We hurt the cause of all women in entertainment.

It is time to come together as women in this industry and support each other. By degrading other women, we are degrading ourselves and hurting our own chance of success.

The fact is, that if a group wants power they have to come together to achieve it. There would be no rights for any minority group if they didn’t demand them. And the sad fact is women are a minority in the entertainment industry. So we must speak up, speak out, and support each other.

It is easy to feel dejected by the facts. But how much better does it feel to celebrate the victories? So here are some ways you can support your fellow females and work towards achieving a wider voice and more power in the entertainment industry!

  1. Go to films and watch television made by women. See a great list of upcoming women-led feature films here.
  2. Share your publicity! Use your social networks to congratulate, encourage, and pitch-in for the women you personally know who are doing great things in entertainment.
  3. Share your network. Invite your other actress/producer/director friends to that great networking or red carpet event.
  4. Hire women. Put each other in “un-traditional” roles. Hire the female DP, Director, and writer. COLLABORATE!
  5. Stand up for each other. When you hear someone degrading a woman in entertainment, speak up. Don’t let it go on any longer.
  6. Get involved with women’s groups. Whether it is a women in film association, a female-driven improv group, or an action network, link up with other women in entertainment and support each other.

Rather than clawing each other down to get one of those few “slots” that have been given to us, we have to make more slots, more roles, and more stories that are for us and by us. We, as women in entertainment, are at the forefront of the feminist movement, because it is our work that defines women in media, and it is our work that helps form the identity of the young girls who will grow up to be the next generation of women. How do we serve each other and serve the world and serve our dream at the same time? We support each other! We cheer each other on! We change the world.

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Photograph by Allan Peach, 2013

Madeline Merritt

About Madeline Merritt

Actress, Freelance Writer - Madeline grew up on stage and has loved telling stories her whole life. From the Bay Area, California, Madeline received her degree in Theatre and Political Science from Northwestern University and moved to Los Angeles in 2008. She recently spent a year in Paris, France but missed the city of Angels and the entertainment industry here. She cares deeply about social issues, including women’s rights, indigenous rights, poverty and the environment. She feels the role of storyteller through entertainment is very important in opening dialogue and creating change in the world. You can see her in The Guest House (available on Netflix, Itunes, Amazon and Time Warner on Demand) and the soon to be released American Idiots, coming to a Redbox near you in June 2013. She is thrilled to continue her journey of collaborating with women in film and television through Ms. In the Biz.