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Lulu Wang Urges Industry to Hire Female Directors During Her Acceptance Speech at the Independent Spirit Awards

Wang's film The Farewell won Best Feature and Best Supporting Actress.

If you’re looking for the antidote to the extremely male and white Academy Awards, then you probably tuned into the Independent Spirit Awards last night. The awards show, which honors smaller, independently made films, featured a diverse line-up of presenters and nominees in stark contrast to that other big and shiny awards show this weekend.

Lulu Wang’s The Farewell took home two awards, one for Best Supporting Female Zhao Shuzhen, who was unable to travel from China due to the coronavirus outbreak, and a surprise win for Best Feature. The Farewell was a Sundance Film Festival selection and critical hit, with star Awkwafina winning a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy.

But like Greta Gerwig, Alma Har’el, Olivia Wilde, Kasi Lemmons, and countless other female directors, Wang and her film were snubbed by the Academy. Taking the stage to celebrate her win, Wang urged the industry to hire women directors for their projects saying,

“There’s been a lot of conversation this year about how to encourage more women to be in film, or get more women into the conversation. I just have to say that, you don’t have to encourage women. There are lots of women making films, and who want to make films and who are in film school. Shadowing is great, programs are great. But really, what women need, is just the job. Just give them the friggin’ job. Give them the money, you know?”

Wang continued, discussing the lack of creative arts funding from the American government. While many countries across the globe have national film funds (the British Film Fund uses the revenue from the lottery to finance films), America does not use its resources in the same way. Wang said, “In America, unfortunately, we’re not going to have a lifelong career making arthouse films supported by government funding, that’s just not the country that we live in, so just give the women the jobs! Don’t make them run through that many hoops.”

Backstage, Best First Feature winner Olivia Wilde, who won for raunchy teen comedy Booksmart, echoed Wang’s sentiment saying, “There are so many women ready to tell their stories … we need more producers saying ‘I dare you to go for it, I encourage you and I empower you.'”

Film is a unique art form in many ways, but perhaps the biggest barrier is the literal price of admission. Even microbudget films require a serious amount of money, not to mention time, people, dedication, expertise, and more to create a film. And the people holding the purse strings are, more often than not, older straight white men who won’t invest in women or people of color.

What we really need is more marginalized people on that side of the table, who can wield power and influence to get their stories told. The audience is there, and the money is there. All that’s left to do is to pay the damn women already.

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband and two poorly behaved rescue dogs. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.