10 women making the films and tv shows of tomorrow
These are the names you should know.
Courtesy of A24 Studios
Despite their dismal representation at the top, women are creating some of the most compelling movies and TV shows out there, from Jenji Kohan's Orange Is The New Black to Greta Gerwig's Ladybird (can you believe she was only the fifth woman nominated for the best director Oscar?!).
In Joy Press's new book on female showrunners, Stealing the Show: How Women Are Revolutionizing Television, the writer argues that women are not only leading the “golden age” of television, they’re revolutionizing it by showing us things we’ve historically been deprived of onscreen. Jenji Kohan puts strong women in the spotlight with Orange Is the New Black, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer illustrate uncensored female sexuality on Broad City, and Issa Rae provides a voice to women of color on Insecure. Inspired by Stealing the Show, we've compiled the young women of both the small and silver screens we think you should be talking about.
Thirteen-year-old Marsai Martin has been acting since she was five, and has become a beloved part of ABC’s primetime family comedy Black-ish. But the teen had more on her agenda than just winning hearts as the precocious Diane Johnson – it’s recently been announced that she’s going to executive produce and star in her first feature film. Little is a comedy based on a story idea that Martin came up with, about a woman who gets the chance to relive her carefree childhood when adulthood becomes too overwhelming. Martin will play the younger version of the main character, while also working behind the scenes.
Millie Bobby Brown
Everyone’s favorite teen TV antihero is known for breaking stereotypes – wearing converse on the red carpet and being stronger than all her onscreen male counterparts – so we should hardly be surprised that Millie Bobby Brown is now working on her own film series. The Emmy-nominated star of Stranger Things recently announced that she will produce and star in a Sherlock Holmes film series titled Enola Holmes Mysteries, inspired by the book series of the same name. Brown will play the titular character, Sherlock Holmes’ problem-solving little sister, as well as produce. All of this and she only just turned 14!
After writing and starring in the autobiographical “Thanksgiving” episode of Master of None, in which her character Denise comes out as lesbian to her homophobic mother, Lena Waithe made history as the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing. Since then the 33-year-old’s star has continued to rise with the release of The Chi, the series she wrote about coming of age in Chicago. The series premiered in January, but Waithe has already announced her next project – an autobiographical comedy about a queer black woman, called Twenties, which will air on TBS. Waithe said, “Queer black characters have been the sidekick for long enough. It’s time for us to finally take the lead.” We couldn’t agree more.
Who better to helm the script of the all-female Ocean’s Eleven reboot than the woman Variety called the “go-to emerging female voice in Hollywood”? Olivia Milch co-wrote the script for Ocean’s 8 (one of 2018’s most hotly anticipated movies) with director Gary Ross, but that’s only one of her achievements. Milch also wrote, directed and executive produced the comedy-drama film Dude (due out later this year), after becoming frustrated by “less than authentic portraits of female friendships.” It tells the story of four female best friends dealing with life and loss after high school. Now the 27-year-old is writing a show for Amazon called Rage For Fame, about author and politician Clare Boothe Luce.
Director Crystal Moselle has made her mark creating compelling films about underground groups in New York, starting with her debut The Wolfpack in 2015, about six brothers whose lives are confined to a tiny apartment in the Lower East Side. The 37-year-old’s latest film, Skate Kitchen, also follows a New York clique – this time, an all-girl skate crew. But instead of making it a straightforward documentary, Moselle wrote the film based on the group’s Instagram feed. Skate Kitchen has been described as Kids meets Girls, and depicts an optimistic camaraderie that destroys the idea of skating as a boy’s club. It’s set to screen this summer.
Iranian-American writer, director and actress Desiree Akhavan has been telling stories about diverse female characters for years. Appropriate Behavior, her feature film debut about a bisexual Persian girl and loosely based on her own life, established her as a filmmaker to watch. Now the 33-year-old is finally getting the wider recognition she deserves with her new film, The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Sundance gave it the Grand Jury Prize for its adaptation of a novel about a teenage girl forced into gay conversion therapy, starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane and Quinn Shephard (who also features on this list). Given the current administration’s views on conversion therapy, this film is sure to be an important watch when it’s released.
There’s a third woman behind Broad City, and it’s about time you knew her name. Lucia Aniello is the writer and producer right-hand to Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, but she doesn’t just wrangle scripts for our favorite buddy comedy. The 34-year-old made one of only two studio comedies directed by a woman in 2017 (Trish Sie’s Pitch Perfect 3 was the other). Her film Rough Night is a dark comedy about five female friends who have to deal with the death of a male stripper at a bachelorette party. With a cast including Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Zoë Kravitz and Ilana Glazer, it was an impressive debut for the director, and signals big things to come.
With more than 20 acting credits to her name, 22-year-old Quinn Shephard is probably best known for her work on the TV show Hostages. But that’s all about to change with the release of her directorial debut, Blame. Shephard started writing the screenplay at 15 years old, and decided that instead of going to film school, she would use her college fund to make a movie. Seven years later she premiered Blame at Tribeca Film Festival, and it was lauded for its exploration of sexual abuse and consent. Shephard has also been celebrated for her DIY approach – directing, editing, producing and starring in the film herself. We can’t wait to see more from her.
Filmmaker Sydney Freeland uses her unique perspective as a transgender Navajo woman to tell stories that are close to her heart, the first of which was her directorial debut, Drunktown’s Finest. The film draws on the 37-year-old’s experiences to show how diverse life is on Native American reservations, and it won accolades when it debuted at Sundance in 2014. Freeland has since earned an Emmy nomination for Her Story, a series she directed in 2015 about the dating lives of queer and trans women. Her latest film, Deidra & Laney Rob a Train, was picked up by Netflix at last year’s Sundance and is available to stream now.
At 24, Hannah Marks has already co-written, produced and co-directed a feature film starring Marisa Tomei called Shotgun, as well as a string of short films, and she’s shown no signs of slowing down. Shotgun is in theaters in March, but Marks is already at work on her next feature, the comedy Banana Split, about an unexpected female friendship that blossoms during the transition between high school and college, which she co-wrote and is executive producing and acting in. Marks is just another example of film’s bright future of women lifting up other women.