I feel very grateful to have had Ms. in the Biz as a resource for the entire time I’ve been in Los Angeles. In fact, I first heard about Ms. in the Biz from CD Bonnie Gillespie when I was in L.A. for a few weeks to determine whether or not I wanted to move here. That was before the site’s official launch, and I have been enjoying reading about other women’s experiences in this industry ever since.
Not only has Ms. in the Biz been a jumping off point when entering the complex industry that exists here in Los Angeles (helping me to navigate the murky waters of essentially starting over in arguably THE city), but it has also become a great community in a place that can feel overwhelmingly isolating. Over 250 women have contributed to the thousands of articles populating the site, covering a broad spectrum of actors, directors, producers, writers, and more. In an industry so disproportionately dominated by men and male voices, it was both comforting and refreshing to read so many female insights into the business right off the bat.
Ms. in the Biz became a community of women who refused to accept the restrictions placed on us. A group of folks from all walks of life who supported each other, collaborated together, and gave one another opportunities. I find it almost poetic that the site is discontinuing to put out new content at this tumultuous time in our country’s history. We’ve learned from one another in our safe bubble, and now more than ever it is time to take our skills out into the world.
We need to continue to support one another, of course, and work to ensure that women are as much a part of the conversation as men. (And note: the #HireaMs Database of women who work behind the camera will still be up and running!) But as storytellers, we also have an obligation to give a voice to the voiceless. Digital media is a powerful tool for helping to expose others to perspectives they’ve never encountered. Just a few weeks ago, I watched Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th on Netflix and found it horrifying and enlightening. It portrayed an evolving story from our nation’s history that I was unaware of. And I will never think of incarceration and voting rights the same way again.
There is so much power in what we do. In a time when fear and division come from truly not knowing someone different from ourselves, hearing someone else’s story is incredibly valuable. The movie Philadelphia helped begin the conversation around de-stigmatising HIV and homosexuality. Norma Rae evoked empathy for the difficulties of the working class and the benefits of unionizing. These stories’ influences are still felt today, and the millions of short films, features, webseries, and TV shows released around the world have a profound effect on our culture.
Like much of the entertainment industry, I’ve been reeling from the results of the November 8th election. And all I can think to do is to get my hands dirty. So, I urge you to join me. Get involved in your community. Reach out to those that are being marginalized and ask how you can support them. Step in when you see discrimination occurring on our streets. And most of all, continue telling stories that will help shape our society.
This isn’t the end. It is only the beginning.
Stay in touch with Sarah by following her on twitter @sarahjeagen.