How these 6 women are unapologetically making TV more diverse
We’re living in a Golden Age of TV right now, with an overwhelming amount of good shows out there to watch. Luckily, there are many women at the helm of these shows.
History points to a time where women only had small roles or if they did have a role they didn’t get much of character with a story. Today, across platforms, the percentage of female characters in speaking roles has increased.
Just this year it’s increased from 40 percent in 2017-18 to 45 percent in 2018-19. This is a historic high, according to a report conducted by Boxed In.
Pushing this trend even further (hopefully it’s not just a trend) we decided to compile a short list of six women absolutely killing it on TV right now.
1. Phoebe Waller-Bridge
The British comedian just picked up three Emmy’s for her show Fleabag. (Fleabag also won Best Comedy Series at the award show.)
The show tracks a thirty-something Londoner (Waller-Bridge, the show’s writer and star) living in the wake of tragedy.
Waller-Bridge’s titular Fleabag often looks to the camera conspiratorially, in a sort of Jim Halpert way, except that she makes comments on what is happening or about to happen. And it’s so funny; my suite-mate even me asked what I was watching since she could hear me laughing out loud.
Waller also wrote Killing Eve, for which Jodie Comer won Best Lead Actress, besting co-lead Sandra Oh. Oh had previously won a Golden Globe for her role in the drama series, making her the first Asian woman to do so. And Waller-Bridge was nominated for Best Writing for a comedy series and drama series in the same year.
This is an extremely rare feat, for a man or woman.
Shortly after her Emmy haul, Waller-Bridge hosted SNL, a sure sign and an indication that she’s skyrocketing to the top. Also, she called in to help with the forthcoming James Bond movie script, which is a pretty huge deal.
2. Issa Rae
We know Issa’s rise was given a lot of attention back when Insecure first debuted on HBO. But the Awkward Black Girl has yet to stagnate. She’s been in The Hate U Give opposite Amandla Stenberg, and her recent film Little with fellow rising star Marsai Martin grossed $48.8 million.
Issa Rae’s work often centers specifically around uplifting and highlighting people of color and more specifically Black women. She’s producing and occasionally staring in A Black Lady Sketch Show. She is also set to produce and star in the upcoming limited HBO series The Dolls.
Issa is also producing a new series titled King Ester on a trans-woman of color. King Ester will be available to watch on October 17 through the Issa Rae Presents YouTube Channel.
In everything Issa Rae does, there is a conscious intention and quality of craft. We can’t wait for what comes next.
3. Lilly Singh
The YouTube star recently scored a late-night talk show, A Little Late With Lilly Singh, airing on NBC during the graveyard slot– a spot formerly held by a white dude, Carson Daly, for the past seventeen years.
In doing so, she became the first openly bisexual POC host of a late-night show. Lilly joked about the massive media attention on her race and sexuality, saying she should have called her show “A Little Late With A Bisexual Woman Of Color.”
Lilly Singh started out with her YouTube channel adopting the title “superwoman” often talking about her immigrant roots: she is the daughter of Indian parents who emigrated to Canada. The creative comedienne landed a few roles in television and played the character Raven in Fahrenheit 451.
She’s also set to star in the TV movie Bright Futures.
4. Cobie Smulders
Smulders, an alum of How I Met Your Mother (remember Robin Sparkles?) and a longtime member of the Marvel franchise, scored the lead role in Stumptown, a new series airing on ABC.
She stars as a Marine veteran (how often do women get to play those?) in financial trouble who takes on a bunch of P.I. jobs to pay the bills. Critics are loving the series, which currently boasts a 94 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes, with much of the praise going to Smulders.
5. Marsai Martin
Who could ever forget the youngest executive producer working in Hollywood? Marsai Martin brings her long-time talent and skill as an actress to her new roles. When first starting out, Martin had several roles on film, from shorts to voice acting. Her role as Diane Johnson on TV series Black-ish, however, propelled her to the stardom she deserves.
Her appearances onscreen continue, from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to A Black Lady Sketch Show. She also won the YoungStars award at the BET Awards this year. She’s well on her way to becoming a legend with so much more to come.
6. Ruby Rose
Rose, who previously starred as inmate Stella Carlin on OITNB– making everyone instantly go “who is that?”– snagged the role of the hero of the CW show Batwoman. Rose, who identifies as gender-fluid and LGBTQ, portrays an out lesbian Batwoman, Kate Kane.
This makes her the first person to portray an LGBTQ superhero lead.
In an interview, Rose expressed that she liked how her character’s sexuality isn’t fussed over– though it has been in the media. Instead, Rose, who calls her character’s sexuality the “least interesting thing about her,” wants to shift the attention to how her Batwoman saves the day: “
You don’t fight crime in a gay way or in a lesbian way…She’s a superhero. That’s what she is.”