The South Asian Times

09 December 2018 15:07 PM

These women are breaking the glass ceiling behind the lens

By Natalia Ningthoujam

ArrayNew Delhi, March 8: "Females are strong as hell." That's just a line from the theme song of the sitcom "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt", but it's true. Women are strong and powerful enough to run shows, push the creative boundaries and call the shots as directors, producers and writers -- often seen as male-dominated spaces.

On the occasion of International Women's Day on March 8, let's celebrate the trailblazing women behind the small screen.

"It is critical that women are depicted and celebrated for all of their dimensions. Our goal at Netflix is to reflect the total human experience across our programming, and strong female characters certainly have a large role within that," Cindy Holland, Vice President for Original Content at Netflix, told IANS.

"Many of the characters in 'Orange Is The New Black' were fresh and yet relatable -- from Piper to Poussey to Sophia Burset. They helped bring important cultural conversations to light, but many people around the world could also identify with their fundamentally human struggles.

"Kimmy in 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' and Jessica in Marvel's 'Jessica Jones' also stand out to me as fundamentally strong, regardless of what they may have faced... or perhaps it's because of what they have faced," added Holland.

And most of these shows are led by women behind the lens.

Actress-comedian Tina Fey, who had slammed US President Donald Trump on a show, is the co-creator of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt". She has been nominated for 15 awards, including Emmys, for her work on the show.

Jenji Kohan is the woman behind some of your favourite shows like "Orange is the New Black" and "GLOW". In 2014, she was even named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World.

There are more.

Shonda Rhimes is a champion for women when it comes to the small screen. Her shows, including the long-running "Grey's Anatomy", famously feature female leads, from doctors to political fixers.

Lena Waithe, on the other hand, made history last year by becoming the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing. She was honoured for the "Thanksgiving" episode of the show "Master of None".

Mary Harron was in the director's chair for every episode of "Alias Grace" -- her first time directing a series from start to finish.

Francesca Delbanco is the co-creator, showrunner and executive producer for "Friends from College". She has also made her foray into writing with the show, penning three episodes in the first season.

"The Marvelous Mrs Maisel", available on Amazon Prime Video, is written, produced and directed by Amy Sherman Palladino. This critically acclaimed show won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy and its star Rachel Brosnahan won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a comedy.

Back in India, stand-up comedian Sumukhi Suresh also got behind the screen for "Pushpavalli", launched last year.

Talking about Indian daily soaps, apart from the popular producer Ekta Kapoor, Shashi Mittal of Shashi-Sumeet Mittal Productions is also making an impact through her shows "Yeh Un Dinon Ki Baat Hai" and "Rishta Likhenge Hum Naya" on Sony Entertainment Television.

"The television industry is one of the best industries for a woman to work in. Women are the real decision-makers in this industry. You will come across women in every segment," Shashi Mittal told IANS.

"If we consider an industry that boasts women power, the production industry for daily soaps takes the top spot. When I made a foray into this industry around eight years ago, I never felt that it's dominated by men. It's been a lovely experience.

"Sumeet (her husband) and I work as a team. It's never about a man and woman. It's about two individuals with different thinking processes. When it comes to the creative process such as writing, I look into it and my decision is final. All things in relation to production is Sumeet's prerogative."

Update: 08 March, 2018

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