The most powerful women in genre television are leveraging that power for change, starting with their own writers' rooms.
In an all-female showrunner panel at YouTube's LA Space, Sera Gamble (The Magicians), Amy Berg (Counterpart), Gillian Horvath (The CW's Beauty and the Beast), Monica Owusu-Breen (Midnight, Texas), Lauren LeFranc (Impulse), Willow Polson (Chronokinesis Ent.), Kimberly Jesika (KidPire TV) and moderator Felicia Day discussed what it means to be a showrunner in the post-#MeToo era and how to create a safe space for their crews.
For Gamble, one question her team posed is a common one among those of us with who've faced some kind of sexual harassment or misconduct: does this count? “A lot of it was questions, like ‘Does this rise to the level of what they’re talking about when they say harassment?’ And sometimes the answer was yes and sometimes the answer was no, but we can’t do anything about it if we don’t know about it,” she said. “And all of the people in positions of power are in terror that the people that work for them are being mistreated, and so really it’s about making sure that everyone understands the channels are open.”
But while much of the focus has been on sexual abuse and harassment in the industry, the implications of #MeToo are intersectional, something these women take to heart.
“It’s about figuring out your voice — not only your creative voice…but also your voice as a manager, as a person who you’d want to work for," LeFranc said. "[It’s about] giving back and empowering other people who make your room more diverse — how to mentor and to make other people feel like they can create something. [The show] is as much theirs as it is yours.”
Gender parity is only half the battle, and it's not true parity if it's only helping white women.
“The world is incredibly unfair and it’s unfair based on your gender, it’s unfair based on the color of your skin, it’s unfair based on whether you’re able in your body — but those things that are unfair are also where art comes from,” Gamble said. “If what you want to do is make a certain kind of art then do what you have to do to squeeze yourself in there.”
It can be a struggle to, as Polson and Jesika put it, fight our way “through the male-verse” and succeed. But with leaders like these women, we can all be inspired to make change.