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News Article

Netflix Boosts Female Participation in Off-Screen Roles

By MBN Staff | Tue, 03/09/2021 - 18:11

Before the rise of streaming platforms, it was rare in the traditional entertainment industry to see women in leading roles in film production, let alone as directors or writers. We have slowly seen how films, actors and directors who were not considered before now have a place at major events such as the Academy Awards. Such was the case with Parasite, which in February 2020 became the first foreign-language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. And although progress has been made in the inclusion of Asian, black and Latino people in nominations, female participation is still scarce. In the Academy Awards' 92-year history, only five women have ever been nominated for Best Director and only one has ever won.

As part of its efforts toward this change, streaming giant Netflix will invest US$5 million in programs to train and mentor female filmmakers in off-screen roles around the world. This initiative is part of the company’s US$20 million annual commitment for the Netflix Creative Equity Fund, which will be distributed over the next five years, totaling US$100 million.

“This is not unique to us,” said Netflix Global Vice President of Television Bela Bajaria in a company blog post. “It is for the industry as a whole to have a much more dynamic, interesting, multidimensional representation of women. We hope that maybe they would be employed on Netflix shows, but also that they just have careers and tell their stories wherever this takes them.” 

Through partnerships with third parties and custom programs, Netflix will support workshops for aspiring female screenwriters and producers to learn how to pitch their creative vision and embrace opportunities as production assistants that will allow them to gain experience, Bajaria explained. Early beneficiaries will access one-year mentoring opportunities for creative women in France and Germany, a short film incubator for Hispanic women and a training program for female directors in Canada.

This is not Netflix's first step towards gender inclusion. According to a report from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the streaming giant has reached parity in leading roles for women on-screen. Between 2018 and 2019, Netflix hired female directors for 23 percent of its films, “far from equal representation by gender but well above the industry’s average.” reported Fortune. However, while Netflix has made strides in the representation of black, Asian and female characters, the report noted that the representation of Latinos is lagging behind.

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