International Women’s Day 2019: Women We Admire in TV & Film

For International Women’s Day 2019 (IWD19), I thought it would be interesting to find out about some wonderful women from film and television, both fictional and not, that my fellow Flip Screen writers find inspiring. This article was born from that thought, and I’ve absolutely loved being able to read their perspectives and also share some thoughts of my own.

I feel so incredibly grateful to be surrounded by such a wonderful community of people in our little Flip Screen family; while we are a diverse bunch encompassing many gender identities, today is all about the women that inspire us.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed co-ordinating it. Today Alissa, Shaun, Georgia, Ell, Hayley and myself lend our voices to some incredible women – may their stories be told, their voices be heard, and their impact known.

Katherine Barrell

[When asked how she thinks the industry should improve to give better visibility to LGBTQ characters] “I think we need more people writing. We need to get the people who want to see their story up on screen, we need to get them writing and producing and directing and making those decisions. I think the more diversity we can have in our writer’s room, then we’re going to get more diverse and more truthful stories.”

I am fortunate to have been surrounded by strong women all my life – and I am fortunate to have always, even as a child, actively taken inspiration from them. These were women who knew that strength could not, always, be characterised by an absence of weakness or vulnerability, but by the perseverance to endure. My strong women gave of themselves without conscious effort or thought; I got my love of stories, in part, from my grandmothers. I got my work ethic from my mother. I am who I am, inherently and by nature, but I am stitched to parts of other women too.

In recent years, another woman who I have taken much from, and the woman I want to celebrate on this International Women’s Day 2019, is actor, director, and passionate dog-lover Katherine Barrell. Katherine, who most commonly goes by Kat, is perhaps best known for her acting roles, most notably Nicole Haught in Wynonna Earp, and Alicia Rutherford in Workin’ Moms. However, Kat also has a fantastic directorial roster, including award-winning short films Dissecting Gwen and Cannonball. In addition, her work has brought her into contact with a large number of LGBTQ fans, and she can safely add ally and activist onto her impressive resume.

That she is also wonderfully sweet, charming, witty, and engaging in person seems almost unfair: people aren’t supposed to have more than one thing. Save some things for the rest of us, you know? Kat, however, seems to stay on top of so many roles – actor, director, writer, activist – so masterfully. And yet, another reason I admire her so much, is because she frequently talks about how she does not always feel that way on the inside. She is vocal about mental health, and in particular about mental health within creative industries.

On IWD19, I want to celebrate Kat for her creativity and her kindness; for her constant calls to have more women, people of colour, and LGBTQ individuals working in the industry and telling stories. I want to celebrate Kat for how she has unknowingly been a part of my own journey, fostering a sense of determination and self-belief in my own creative goals. As, like Kat, I make my own way through my twenties, I am increasingly finding myself seeking out creatives just like her: the ones who make others feel seen and heard; the ones who are honest about their goals and their vulnerabilities. I do not want to say that I wish we had more voices like Kat in film and television; because I know she would be the first to say that women like us are out there. I simply wish we could better hear what they are saying. However, on IWD19, I will allow myself a moment of reflection and optimism: because with women like Kat in the industry, producing strong bodies of work and inspiring others to do the same, I know we are headed towards better and brighter things.

Written by Alissa Morgan

Furiosa (Mad Max: Fury Road)

“Out here, everything hurts. You wanna get through this? Do as I say. Now pick up what you can and run.”

With Brie Larson and Captain Marvel being the current target from angry white men who are afraid of change, think back to 2015 when Mad Max Fury Road was released. A movie you would have expected to have been the definition of masculinity but instead Max is sidelined for Imperator Furiosa who stole the show.

Seen as the fiercest warrior of Immortan Joe’s army, she breaks away from his dictatorship to save young women forced to produce offsprings. She is shown to be an incredibly versatile fighter but has still kept her humanity in a world that is grasping on to it’s last hope. In a world full of people who have lost hope, she still believes in something better.

Her most powerful moment is during the climactic battle. She is bleeding, struggling to keep the wives safe but she battles through her pain. She was able to stare into the face of the man who kidnapped and enslaved her and be the last thing he saw before she killed him, toppling his empire. Her defiant line of “Remember Me” is one of those moments worth punching the air for. A victory against a patriarchal dictatorship and a new cinematic icon born.

Written by Shaun Alexander

Rose Tyler (Doctor Who)

“Got no A levels. No job. No future. But I’ll tell you what I have got, Jericho Street Junior School Under 7’s gymnastics team. I got the bronze.”

So, when I think about women who have inspired me, there are many that come to mind, though none more so than Doctor Who’s Rose Tyler. Quite literally running onto our screens in 2005, Rose made her debut in the first episode of ‘New Who’ entitled Rose, respectively, and has never been portrayed as anything but extraordinary.

Raised by a single mother in a typical London council estate, Rose worked at a department store before crashing into the Doctor, (then the Ninth incarnation played by Christopher Eccleston) who turned her world upside down.

Over her two initial years on screen, Rose never failed to make me smile. As the eldest daughter of a single parent from a not-so-fantastic background, I immediately felt connected to Rose. Like me, she was stubborn, and she never let her class become her weakness, using what she has – no matter how small – to her advantage, helping her to save the countless times. Even after becoming trapped in a parallel universe, Rose did not let this defeat her. She fought to get back to where she belonged, all whilst remaining the soft, strong and sassy Rose that I came to love.

Rose Tyler was my first ever role model. I had her figurines, posters, and even had the albums of actress, Billie Piper, because I loved Rose Tyler just that much. Rose Tyler was everything I aspired, and still aspire to be; complicated, emotional, stubborn, funny and determined. She was everything to me.

Even though I may have fallen out of love with Doctor Who nowadays, my love for Rose still stands strong. Without Rose Tyler, I would have never pursued my passions for filmmaking and acting – most likely choosing a career in physics or history instead. Rose Tyler made me the person I am today, and for that, I am forever grateful.

Written by Georgia Davis

Brie Larson

“Women are such strong, powerful leaders – and a lot of the time, we play it silent.”

This might sound a bit fake right now, with Captain Marvel just gracing our screens – a movie I’ve had the honour to see twice already, and I’m on my way to my third viewing after typing this up, a bit of fresh air in the high-stake MCU – but Brie Larson truly has been an inspiration to me for years. I can’t exactly say when I was first introduced to Brie Larson – chances are good that it was while watching Scott Pilgrim – but what made me aware of Larson is how she presents herself as a public figure.

Since before she got announced as Captain Marvel, she’s been a superhero. She’s aware of her privileges, whether it be about the opportunities given to her to become an actress and director, or to be one. A couple years ago, she encouraged her followers on Twitter to share simple ways to make movies.  The following thread consisted of open source programs, affordable camera equipment, learning videos, and so much more. It can be found here.

As an aspiring filmmaker myself, it was oddly comforting to hear from someone within the industry: “You don’t need a fancy camera to tell your story.” And you felt that she meant it.

Far more, though, she is aware of her position as a white woman. About two years ago she had shared her Instagram account with various women of colour to promote their activism over a couple of months. Instead of speaking for them, or over them, she gave them her account and they could speak for themselves. While promoting Captain Marvel she emphasizes the need for diversity and keeps asking for interviewers from backgrounds other than just cis, white, straight men. They’re dominating journalism as it is.

Her allyship doesn’t seem fake or empty or performative. However, this right now, too, is from the perspective of a white woman. I try to learn from her allyship and from criticism she gets for it, too.  

Written by Ell Hofmann

Tatiana Maslany

“Trust your gut. You know yourself, so don’t let somebody else tell you who you are.”

One woman in the entertainment industry who I think is pretty awesome and deserving of recognition is Canadian actor Tatiana Maslany. An outspoken feminist, supporter of Planned Parenthood, and LGBTQ+ ally, Maslany first came on my radar after seeing the internet rave about her incredible performances – yes, you read that right! – on the Canadian cult favourite sci-fi television show Orphan Black. (Out of curiosity, I watched the show and was instantly hooked!)

To this day, it still amazes me how she managed to take on the multitude of roles that she did within that series, portraying a diverse “galaxy of women” and even a trans man, who are all related yet very distinct from one another, each complete with their own complexities, quirks, and flaws. Maslany has mentioned in interviews before that she likes to take on roles that scare her and play women who are allowed to be messy and multi-faceted, frequently citing the Gena Rowlands film A Woman Under the Influence as one of her biggest inspirations for this very reason.

She’s also chosen an interesting career trajectory post-Orphan Black, largely orbiting within the realm of independent film and continuing to take on new and unexpected roles that challenge her as an actress while subverting audience expectations.

A performer whose heart belongs to the stage as well as the screen, Maslany also recently made her Broadway debut in the play Network opposite Bryan Cranston, based on the 1976 film of the same title. Her career has been a fascinating one to follow, and I for one can’t wait to see what this chameleonic Canadian star will take on next!

Written By Hayley Paskevich

Stephanie Beatriz

“When you label somebody and put them in a box, you put the lid on the box, and you just never look inside again. I think it’s much more interesting for human beings to look at each other’s stories and really see each other. Really see each other and then themselves through other people’s stories. That’s where you start to break down stereotypes.”

I have a bit of a difficult relationship when it comes to labelling myself as a “woman”.

I identify at least semi-comfortably as non-binary, though I use it as a bit of an umbrella term for something I’ve struggled to pin down since before I can remember. I’ve jumped from place to place, thing to thing, identity to identity… but it’s how I’m settling for now, and I’m learning to be okay with that. After all, there’s no need to rush myself and put a label on it.

Despite my feelings regarding my own gender identity, that doesn’t change the fact that my life has been invaluably shaped by the women around me. My hard-working mother has been an unstoppable, incredible force in my life, fighting my corner when nobody seemed to listen – but she is also, undeniably, my best friend in the world. My wonderful, wise Nana has overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles at every step of the way, and has been one of my greatest teachers. And not to mention my younger sister, currently working harder than I ever knew she could towards her GCSEs; and my stepmum, spending her entire life caring for her animals, her children, and fighting tirelessly against anything life throws at her.

While I could spend all the time in the world talking about how wonderful these women are (as well as mentioning many more), I’d like to focus on one person in particular: Brooklyn Nine-Nine actress Stephanie Beatriz.

I’d always loved the show; I fell head over heels for Rosa Diaz pretty much as soon as we were introduced to her in the very first episode, and as much as I liked Stephanie Beatriz I only really took an interest in her after an article published in 2017 detailed her experiences with a particular issue that has affected her for many years. For personal reasons and the sake of my own privacy, I’m going to keep this vague.

As I read, my eyes were opened to a different kind of strength that I never knew she held – let alone a strength that I shared with her. This particular issue is something that I was actively struggling with at the time of the article’s release and I couldn’t help but feel this inexplicable kinship with her – not only that, but it was the final push I needed to seek out and accept the help I so desperately needed.

While this article led me to fall in love with Stephanie Beatriz, that’s certainly not the only reason why I’m so fond of her – she is a bisexual woman of colour that uses her platform for good, bringing awareness to many different issues and handling things in a sensitive, respectful way. On top of all that she is an incredibly talented, versatile actress, and I’m so excited to watch her career blossom – through Brooklyn Nine-Nine and beyond.

She is a truly incredible woman that provides me with an infinite amount of inspiration, and I will be forever in her debt for indirectly helping me through what was a very difficult time in my life.

Written by Daisy Bain

Of course, International Women’s Day is about a lot more than just the women that inspire us. Today is about all women everywhere – and not to mention ourselves.

There is no right or wrong way to be a woman, and despite our individual situations we all carry within us light and hope that paves the way to a strength that many of us may not even realise we have. We are braver than we realise, stronger than we know, and much like the phenomenal women highlighted in this article – we deserve for our voices to be heard.

I would like to take this opportunity to shift the spotlight away from Flip Screen for a moment and over to a small selection of charity organisations that specifically work to support women through various issues around the world. I have included donation links to these specific charities, but there is no pressure to donate – spreading the word and continuing to fight for the rights of women is enough of a donation in itself!

Imkaan: A black feminist organisation addressing violence against BME (black and minority ethnic) women and girls around the world.

Freedom4Girls: A UK-registered charity attempting to provide sanitary products to products to women and girls worldwide.

Plan International: A humanitarian organisation striving for gender equality both within and outside of the UK. Fun fact: they successfully pushed for the inclusion of sex education within the UK’s national curriculum!

Thank you for reading, and happy International Women’s Day from everyone here at Flip Screen!