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Why Idris Elba is spot on in his response to the #MeToo Movement

Idris Elba’s recent “Du-rag thought” captioned Instagram videos, prove as much as he is a talented actor with successful business side ventures — running a production company, clothing line, and record label and all — he is full of valuable and insightful knowledge.

But his recent posts on IG are not what has garnered so much attention on social media.

In a recent interview with the British news publication, The Sunday Times, the actor was asked if it’s hard to be a man in Hollywood now, due to the emergence of the #MeToo movement.

Elba’s simple, yet cutting response to question dispelled the standpoint of critics of  #MeToo, who view the movement as a sweeping conspiracy-like scheme to take down all men (it’s bizarre I know, but some people actually believe this!).

Elba responded to the question perfectly, by stating,

 “It’s only difficult if you’re a man with something to hide.”

The actor’s answer was quickly applauded online from the likes of TV maverick Shonda Rhimes, bad-ass filmmaker Ava DuVernay and government official, Valerie Jarrett.

While this is not the first time actors have been asked about the climate of the industry in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the rise of the TIMES UP campaign, other male actors,’ such as Matt Damon and Henry Cavill have delivered cringe-worthy responses that have necessitated public apologies.

Their responses cited a differentiation between sexual misconduct and warned the risk of certain behaviors being conflated with other behaviors.

But these responses are emphatic proof that a lot of men do not understand that these instances of sexual misconduct are systemic, not isolated incidences of abuses of power but are symptoms of an oppressive system of power.

Nonetheless, Elba’s latest statement is another example of the actor being a champion for gender equality. In 2016, Elba delivered a powerful speech to the UK’s Parliament, stressing the need for more women in Hollywood, in front of the camera and working behind the scenes.

Drawing from his own experience in the industry, Elba declared in his speech to the parliament,

“What all this taught me, is too often people get locked inside boxes. And it’s not a great place to be. Ask women, they’ll say the same thing.”

While some stars avoid commenting on the systemic issues within the industry for fear of backlash, Elba is not afraid to talk about these topical issues. He confronts them head-on.

Elba’s advocacy is indicative of the fact that throughout his career, the 46-year-old has always sought to break out categorical confines set out by the industry.

New study shows that women don’t get to talk much in big Hollywood movies

Jojo Moyes compiled stats from Hollywood, published by The Pudding, that show women haven’t really had much to say in America’s most prominent films.

Winners of the Best Picture films have garnered critical responses throughout Twitter by users that are shocked with the raw data.

The chart, which dates back to 1991’s Dancing With Wolves, shows colored bar graph that analyzes the number of words spoken between men and women in movies, with the exception of 2003 and 2012’s Chicago and The Artist.

In 1994, The Schindler’s List and 2010’s The Hurt Locker, there appears to be no bar at all.


It seems this dynamic starts younger than anticipated.

The Pudding also complied stats from 30 different Disney and Pixar films, and found that in all of them, male characters primarily took the lead.

“In January 2016, researchers reported that men speak more often than women in Disney’s princess films. We validated this claim and doubled the sample size to 30 Disney films, including Pixar. The results: 22 of 30 Disney films have a male majority of dialogue.”

They also go on to point out that even a film such as Mulan, where the plot is literally to bring down the patriarchy, has her dragon sidekick and protector, Mushu, speak more than her by 50%.

They also analyzed the age data of the cast members to see if there was bias towards older women in Hollywood. What they found was that women between the ages of 42 and 65 spoke 12% less than women of the proceeding 32 to 41 age group. For male cast members, peak age for character dialogue was ages 32 to 41.

“In 22% of our films, actresses had the most amount of dialogue (i.e., they were the lead). Women are more likely to be in the second place for most amount of dialogue, which occurs in 34% of films. The most abysmal stat is when women occupy at least 2 of the top 3 roles in a film, which occurs in 18% of our films. That same scenario for men occurs in about 82% of films.”

But before looking at the films from this angle, The Pudding put Hollywood films to the Bechdel Test to see if films in Hollywood have two things:

1. It has at least two women in the film
2. These women talk to each other about something besides a man

40% of films failed. When an all-male writing cast was involved, 50% of films failed. When a woman was part of the team, that number was reduced by 1/3. And finally, when an all-women writing crew behind the scenes, the films seemed to pass the test requirements.

“Whether or not there’s unconscious bias against women, things aren’t changing. Films made in 1995, on average, failed the Bechdel Test 37% of the time. Today? 38%. Films made in 1995 had about 18% women in director, producer, and writing roles. Today? 17%.”

So we have some things to work on. After last year’s tipping point and the #MeToo movement, it’s not altogether shocking that there’s a divide between female and male leads in movies, just now that it’s put forward with raw data we can easier digest what’s going on.

But this extends well beyond films, Disney or Oscar-Nominated. It starts with how we perceive women, how we view women and how we treat women in our everyday lives. It starts with acceptance of the  Gender Gap, movements #MeToo and #TimesUP. It starts with us.

Now that we know, how will we fix it?

How Issa Rae is changing the way Hollywood lets black women create

Issa Rae got her start with the comedic series, “Awkward Black Girl” on YouTube.

After the launch of her series, the Stanford graduate has parlayed her YouTube career into more than a singular web series, it’s become a platform where all people of color can share their stories.

Issa has extended beyond the perimeters of YouTube. Now, she’s a known producer, writer, as well as actress and co-creator of HBO’s Insecure, which follows a partial Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl storyline.

According to her own website:

“With her own unique flare and infectious sense of humor, Issa Rae’s content has garnered over 23 million views and over 200,000 YouTube subscribers (and counting).”

Gaining 1.3 million followers on YouTube, Rae has hit Forbes'”35 under 35″ and made the New York Times Best Seller list.

Issa Rae is now developing a 90s LA drama with The Turner House author Angela Flournoy, NAACP Image award nominee.

Rae shared with Deadline,

“I’m so thrilled to be working with Angela. I was a huge fan of The Turner House and we feel so lucky to bring her beautiful storytelling to HBO.”

Flournoy shared the same sentiment:

The novel, a VCU First Novelist winner brings to life The Turner House to life, and will depict a Black family living in Los Angeles in the 90s.

According to Rolling Stone,

“The early Nineties, when the show will be set, was of course a tumultuous time for L.A. The crack epidemic, the war on drugs, tough-on-crime policies and gang violence wreaked havoc on many neighborhoods, while long-simmering racial tensions finally erupted in 1992 after four LAPD officers were acquitted of beating Rodney King.”

As for Insecure, the second season was a success, with the third on its way.

Earlier this year, she appeared on a Complex issue as Pam Grier, Issa’s favorite black woman on television.

Issa Rae is very known for keeping it real at all times.

“You compare yourself to other people. You compare your success to other people. Everything happens at the right time. I’m still awkward, but now I don’t apologize for leaving the party at 9 p.m.”

Issa has grown into a pioneer activist for race relations through the Insecure show. From Girl Talk HQ,

“Being able to explore that on the show and have people talk about it, and to address it and to show a potential solution and to have people kind of question their own personal worth at their job – it fit exactly within the vein of our show because we don’t necessarily take a side either way.”

And she certainly does do that. If you haven’t watched her original series, take a look at episode one.

Check out the full list of episodes here.

It’s no wonder that her authentic, creative outlet shone through Hollywood’s hearts and garnered so many fans.

In an interview with People Magazine, Rae has a heart to heart discussing women in the industry,

“I’ve been influenced by strong women doing what they’re supposed to do and living in their truths. I think being in the industry and seeing a dearth of those women made me feel like, ‘I can do something.

And Rae seems to have accomplished telling these issues so far through activism and magnifying show plot-lines. The Hollywood Reporter‘s interview with her speaks about the issues going on around the world today and touches on how that flows with her characters’ development.

“I get to actually hire people, and dictate who I work with and who I can put a spotlight on. It just made sense for me as someone who is constantly inspired by powerful women to give them a platform to be able to do the same.”

On television, Black women are often portrayed as stereotypically as possible. Quartz does a wonderful job at describing the typical images of Black women in media:

“On screen, black women are often trapped at one or another extreme. On one side are the black women reduced to time-honored stereotypes, where they are either “mammys” (Gone With the Wind and The Help); prostitutes (Hustle and Flow) or addicts (The Corner); or reductive “magical negro” types (Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost).”

And then we have the “fierce, unstoppably powerful superwomen that have risen lately as a sharp reaction to these roles: Olivia Pope of Scandal; Cookie of Empire; Beyoncé of… Beyoncé.”

Issa Rae’s character, J, explores a medium between these extremes, giving the audience an original and authentic spin on her character, which no doubt helped propel her career in the direction she wanted, and spun it into an award-winning production.

She certainly has a natural ability to channel relatable stories. She told the Hollywood Reporter, “For me it just came down to telling human stories. Trying to be funny, putting people in realistic situations. We’re telling a very universally specific story.”

For now, Issa Rae remains a revolutionary out in the Hollywood spotlight and shines through her show Insecure.

As the trailblazing icon keeps taking on projects, we’re anxiously awaiting her next major move and next impactful message.

From the big screen to sports: Hollywood A-listers talk sexual assault

I’m getting tired of reading and writing about these stories, not because they aren’t important (they are) but because it’s sickening how common and prevalent sexual assault is.

In less-than-shocking news, Jennifer Lawrence and McKayla Maroney have both come out with their own stories of sexual harassment and misconduct.

Jennifer Lawrence shared the details of her own experience in Hollywood that have been described as “harrowing” by various media outlets. Lawrence was exposed to sexual assault and body-shaming in her early days of being an actress.

“One girl before me had already been fired for not losing enough weight fast enough,” she told Elle.

“And, during this time, a female producer had me do a nude lineup with about five women who were much, much thinner than me. And we all stood side-by-side with only paste-ons covering our privates. After that degrading and humiliating lineup, the female producer told me I should use the naked photos of myself as inspiration for my diet.”

Lawrence described the time as, “feeling trapped.”

“I asked to speak to a producer about the unrealistic diet regime and he responded by telling me he didn’t know why everyone thought I was so fat, he thought I was perfectly ‘fuckable.'”

McKaya Maroney, former gold medal Olympic Gymnast turned music artist, also spoke about her own terrifying encounter. Joining the #MeToo movement, Maroney went on to post a long document calling out former USA Gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar as her rapist.

Nassar has been accused of sexual misconduct by 100 women within the past year. Maroney says it started at the age of 13, and then goes on to recall being 15 years old and drugged with a sleeping pill during her flight, “The next thing I know, I was all alone with him in his hotel room getting a ‘treatment.’ I thought I was going to die that night,” she writes.

Why did it take these women so long to come forward with these accusations? Lawrence explained it perfectly in her interview:

“I didn’t want to be a whistleblower. I didn’t want these embarrassing stories talked about in a magazine. I just wanted a career.”

Thankfully, both Lawrence and Maroney have a huge support system, with celebrities and fans showing their encouragement for coming forward.

Women everywhere have been living in silence too long about these assault experiences, and as heartbreaking as it is to revisit these moments, it’s more important now than ever to support our women in the fight against sexual harassment.

No one should have to be body-shamed and treated with disrespect.

Let’s hope that there’s a very bright side to all of this and that those affected recover and come back stronger.