Women Interns in Film: Well Worth It & Much Needed
Just the other day I read an interesting article in the news letter from Women In Film (WIF). It was written from the point of view of their Summer Intern, a young woman named Brianna Byrdsong. The question put to the college student was whether or not moving to Los Angeles after graduation would be worth it to her in her pursuit of a career in the entertainment industry. Her answer was an emphatic yes stating, "I am certain that if I follow the advice of the people (especially women) I have met here, I will find success". I would like to add that it is well worth it to, and much needed by Hollywood to have Brianna join the ranks of an industry that is calling out for the input and insight that young women bring to a business that is all too much dominated by men. We need you Brianna. And we are waiting for you.
Something Brianna said struck me. She stated that, "Every industry professional I've come in contact with has stressed the importance of fostering your connections and not burning bridges". As true as that statement is, I would urge any recent graduate or any other woman around the same age, to weigh the need of maintaining bridges with the need to maintain self-worth. It seems that young women today have a better grasp on this than we who have come before. However, I just want to urge that when you are in doubt about how to handle difficult, even challenging situations in which a woman may find herself, be sure to reach out to the mentors you trust most for guidance. Trust me when I say we have ALL been there when it comes to questionable or just plain confusing behavior from male colleagues and/or bosses. Now more than ever, it's easy to contact someone more experienced for much needed advice. Do not hesitate. This is after all your livelihood we're talking about. Everyone should take that, and you seriously.
I want to take issue with one thing Brianna stated. And this is by no means an issue with her, but with the general Hollywood mentality. She states that one may need to "fake it till you make it". This is a phrase I've heard often in "show business" and more often than not by those who have very little going for them other than an image that they have created. Honestly, I think playing the inexperienced youth card will take you a lot further. People love to feel like they are contributing to what you are becoming. And owing up to what you do not know helps keep you from coming off as a know-it-all. However, this does not work with anyone who is the least bit predatory, so trust your instincts. If something feels wrong, weird, or just icky you're probably right and you should contact your trusted mentors for guidance ASAP. People do have a tendency to work with others whom they already know and like. But be sure you know what that other person's definition of "LIKE" is before building a professional relationship. And remember, sometimes a bridge does need burning, engulfed with flames even.
Brianna finishes up by saying, "I know things won’t be easy for me due to my race and gender". Sadly, that is so true. The best thing that can be said about that is that by recognizing the situation and facing it head on you are in a much better place than those (i.e. not black, not female) who pretend it doesn't matter. Yes, you should always be respectful and good-natured, as Brianna states, but she goes on to say "sometimes you have to be assertive to prove your commitment; you can’t allow them to walk over you, but you also shouldn’t stoop to their level. You can use the inequality in Hollywood as motivation to stay focused and aim higher, so that those who hold the power will become as diverse as the people working in it". Holy cow, this is one confident and together young woman! She hit the nail on the head!
Do I usually write commentaries on someone else's commentary? No. However, I was inspired by the words of this future industry leader. If her confidence comes across to others as well as it did to me, then I have no doubt that Hollywood is in for a big change. I say the sooner the better. So, I repeat myself... we need you Brianna, and we can't wait to see what you do when you get here.