In honour of International Women’s Day, we’re looking back at some of the most impactful messages from these powerhouse ladies.
The state of the film industry has been under much-needed scrutiny for its treatment and representation of women, largely thanks to global movements like #TimesUp and #MeToo. The ongoing dialogue has already sparked lots of progress in equal compensation, increased opportunity for women behind the camera, and more female-led blockbuster titles.
But behind the headlines and movements, plenty of badass women have been pushing their way to the top of Hollywood for years, fighting to tell their stories and to represent real women on the big screen.
Get inspired by 12 quotes from female filmmakers on their creative process as artists, and as women shaking up the industry.
"There was a very difficult time when a female hero was a man in a woman’s body. Hunger Games really changed that: A woman leading a non-woman’s film in the action genre. I think Wonder Woman does that on a very big scale.”
— Patty Jenkins, director of Monster and Wonder Woman
“...There’s one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered. One place. And that’s the graveyard. People ask me all the time, ‘What kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola?’ And I say, exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories. The stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost.” A powerful acceptance speech from Viola Davis after her Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress for Fences.
“One of the most important keys to acting is curiosity. I am curious to the point of being nosy. What that means is you want to devour lives. You’re eager to put on their shoes and wear their clothes and have them become a part of you. All people contain mystery, and when you act, you want to plumb that mystery until everything is known to you.”
— Meryl Streep, three time Academy Award-winning actress
Hot off her first feature film performance, Lady Gaga delivered this impassioned speech after winning her first Oscar for the original song Shallow in A Star Is Born.
“Most directors, I discovered, need to be convinced that the screenplay they’re going to direct has something to do with them. And this is a tricky thing if you write screenplays where women have parts that are equal to or greater than the male part. And I thought, ‘Why am I out there looking for directors?’ Because you look at a list of directors, it’s all boys. It certainly was when I started as a screenwriter. So I thought, ‘I’m just going to become a director and that’ll make it easier.’”
— Nora Ephron, screenwriter and director of classics like Julie & Julia, You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle.
The Academy Award-winning actress, film producer and entrepreneur has been fighting to bring women’s stories to life in cinema and television through her female-focused production company, Hello Sunshine.
“To all the nerdy girls out there who hide behind their sketchbooks, don’t be afraid to tell your stories to the world.”
— Domee Shi, a Canadian storyboard artist and director, after winning the Best Animated Short Film Oscar for Bao
“When I’m being true to myself, I can avail myself to extraordinary things such as this. You have to allow for the impossible to be possible.”
— Lupita Nyong’o in her Oscars acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress in 12 Years a Slave
Kathryn Bigelow is an Academy Award-winning filmmaker and the director of The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty and Point Break.
"I have a huge collection of music that I listen to when I’m writing, and I also prepare a lot of music before I start directing. I put it all onto an iPod that I have with me on the set. It’s helpful to the actors, because for an emotional scene, I’ll play it and say, this is how it feels, to keep us in the zone.”
— Nancy Meyers, a director, writer and producer whose work includes The Holiday, What Women Want, It’s Complicated and Father of the Bride.
Actress, writer and director Greta Gerwig has established an unmistakable signature style and female voice in her films, from Frances Ha and 20th Century Women to Lady Bird.
“I love the exploration of someone who has such a different background from you. That exploration runs to compassion and to cracking yourself open and creating more understanding of how weird and amazing life is.”