Welcome to our Power Women Summit, taking place today in Santa Monica with 1,500 women across media and entertainment.
In the year since we gathered downtown around the goal of 50/50 gender equity in Hollywood, current events continue to shake the foundations of this business. More powerful men in media have fallen. More truths have been exposed. But also, more women have risen in leadership roles. More inclusion is being achieved behind the camera and in front of it.
And the companies that make up the entertainment industry are stepping up to say, “We commit to change.”
So in what will be an annual progress report, let’s talk about the numbers that show this shift. Thirty-nine of 2018’s top 100 films had a female in a lead or co-leading role, nearly double the numbers from 2007. According to the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, 13% of the projected top 100 films in 2019 were directed by women, almost double what it has ever been in a single year.
In the executive suites, gender equity is on the rise. We welcome the appointment of Ann Sarnoff to lead Warner Bros., and salute Shari Redstone in achieving the merger of Viacom and CBS this year in a stormy business environment and after a stormy year internally. CBS now has a board in which 6 of 11 directors are women. We have started tracking representation on the boards of entertainment companies, so more to come there.
Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe has gone superhero inclusive. It’s gone from being led by three white guys named Chris (Hemsworth, Evans and Pratt), to a budding universe with Scarlett Johansson as “Black Widow,” Angelina Jolie leading “The Eternals,” Simu Liu in “Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings,” Natalie Portman as the goddess of Thunder in “Thor: Love and Thunder” and “Blade” with Mahershala Ali.
A UCLA study this year found that films with casts consisting of at least 51 percent people of color had the greatest return on investment at the box office. And a 2018 study found that in the period from 2014-2017, female-led films outperformed male-led films overall. “Captain Marvel” — the first female-led film in the Disney superhero franchise –made $1.12 billion earlier this year.
It’s not all good news. Another new study found Latino actors represented only three percent of lead or co-lead roles in top-performing movies during the last 12 years. Producers, directors and casting executives are badly underrepresented.
Other updates: On the #MeToo front, several states including New York have passed legislation restricting the issue of nondisclosure agreements when resolving sexual harassment claims. And in June, New York passed a bill that adds new employee protections against harassment, retaliation and discrimination in the workplace.
Here in California, legislation has just been adopted to strengthen sexual harassment claims. New laws extend the time to file a claim, ban forced arbitration and prevent employers from implementing “no re-hire” clauses for victims of sexual harassment.
What we are seeing overall is a new determination to drive deep roots into the soil of change. We know that this requires intention and focus. That’s why it’s so encouraging that every major media company is taking part in this event. We thank each of them for being here, and for sponsoring, and equally thank all of our sponsors, too numerous to mention.
You can tweet and share at #powerwomensummit. Let’s keep that momentum going Toward 50/50!
Onward to a great Summit!