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‘The Defenders’ Director on Being a Woman in a Man-Heavy Genre: ‘I Don’t Know Any Other Way’

”She’s a superhero, but she’s this woman, ultimately, who is flawed, damaged, vulnerable,“ says S.J. Clarkson of Jessica Jones

When it comes to being a woman in a male-dominated field, it helps to just, well, forget about it.

Patty Jenkins has been the epicenter of buzz coming from “Wonder Woman” — the all-time highest-grossing live action film directed by a woman. But she isn’t the only female directing superheroes these days.

Enter S.J. Clarkson, the director of the first two episodes of Netflix’s “The Defenders” and also an executive producer for the show — which merges the stories of four Marvel heroes: Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Matt Murdock (Daredevil) and Danny Rand (Iron Fist). Clarkson told TheWrap during a recent interview that she doesn’t overthink being a woman in a genre largely governed by men. For her, it’s much more straightforward: “I get asked about being a female director, and my answer is always: I don’t know any other way because I am a woman and I am a director,” she said.

“Directing is an incredibly challenging job, whether you’re male or female,” she told TheWrap. “You’re sort of wrangling and wrestling a script and an army of people to come together and realize the vision that you have for this piece. I think it’s demanding on so many levels and, you know, I suppose what I always try to do is I don’t even think about, ‘Oh, I’m a woman. I’m directing a superhero.’ I just think, ‘Oh, they sent me a script and it really excites me.'”

Clarkson also worked on “Jessica Jones” Season 1 as a director and executive producer. “This is about a private investigator — she’s a superhero, but she’s this woman, ultimately, who is flawed, damaged, vulnerable, but equally abrasive, strong, sarcastic, witty, and it was all those characteristics that made me fall in love with Jessica and want to direct it. It wasn’t necessarily the fact that she was a superhero,” Clarkson told TheWrap of the superheroine played by Krysten Ritter.

“And when it comes to ‘The Defenders,’ I was interested in the idea that you’ve got these other flawed independent characters that all, you know, have their own unique qualities, and how they work when they’re together.”

Clarkson said she tries to tune out any noise about gender stereotypes in whatever genre she’s working in, and instead focus on the script. Clarkson has worked in a wide-range of genres, from drama to action — she also directed episodes for “Orange is the New Black,” “Bates Motel,” “Banshee,” “Dexter” and “White Chapel,” among others.

“If I’m excited about it, I hope whatever I do with it will come across and it will be enjoyable for the audience,” she said.

“The Defenders” premieres on Netflix on Aug. 18.