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Seed & Spark’s Emily Best Tired of Talking About the Hollywood Sexism Problem, So She’s Proposing Solutions

(l-r) Hadas Gold, CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, and Emily Best.

We can go round and round in circles talking about what’s wrong, or we can start outlining and implementing solutions. That seems to be the tack that film producer and Co-Founder/CEO of crowdfunding and distribution platform Seed & Spark, Emily Best, wants to take with regard to making Hollywood a less sexist and abusive environment.

In a recent blog post on Seed & Spark’s website, Best brings up an excellent point: people are taught to accept and encourage abuse the second they step foot in the industry. She brings up the element of job postings for industry positions, which often use phrases like “requires agency experience” or “must have a thick skin” when advertising jobs. Here is why Best believes this is a problem:

“[M]any entry level positions at agencies, production companies and studios ask directly or indirectly for applicants to have ‘a thick skin.’ This is the grooming: telling young people coming into the industry that they should expect and be prepared to tolerate abuse. If they don’t, it’s their own fault for not having thick enough skin.”

Notice that this isn’t even gender-specific. Everyone in Hollywood is taught, from the moment they place a hand on the bottom rung of the Hollywood ladder, that they need to be okay with abusive environments and behavior, because that’s just how it is and you need to be able to handle it.

Phrases like “requires agency experience,” are also code. It seems innocuous enoughafter all, plenty of workplaces require previous experience. However, as Best writes, “How many job posts in our business ask for people with one or more years of agency experience? Can you honestly say that asking for agency experience is not making sure an applicant has been trained to handle being diminished and disrespected on a daily basis? Maybe it’s not! But it’s worth asking the question.” They’re not asking for general “office” experience. It’s specifically agency experience. In other words, Are you prepared to handle Hollywood-level garbage? .

Best then points out that people who excel under those conditions, who have the aforementioned “thick skin,” are then groomed to tolerate the abuse of others. After all, if you had to deal with it, why shouldn’t they? And then, since these people have been so embittered or frightened by their own experiences, they have no problem turning a blind eye to the suffering of others.

This isn’t directly related to sexism, or to sexual harrassment/assault specifically. Rather, it creates the environment in which those things can thrive. An environment built on toxic masculinity and maintained by fear.

So, Best’s solutions involve tackling problems at that level:

  1. Men in positions of influence: it’s time to speak up.
  2. Employers: Make sure your company has clearly defined rules about sexual harassment and very safe avenues for reporting. Then, take a hard look at how you describe your work environment.
  3. If you’re a young person looking to break into the business or for your next opportunity in entertainment, make sure you ask a lot of questions about the work environment.

For an elaboration on each of these, as well as more very useful information, check out the full blog post over at Seed & Spark. While you’re there, consider becoming an “Executive Producer” by subscribing. You’ll have access to stream hundreds of films and shows created by a diverse group of filmmakers and content creators from all over the world, and you’ll be supporting future work from creators who may be marginalized by the rest of the industry, but who can find a home at Seed & Spark.

(image: screencap)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.