Friday, June 6, 2014

Orange is the New Black is the Exception: The Intern Gap in the Entertainment Industry Everyone Should Be Talking About


Orange is the New Black is no doubt a huge step in equality for woman in Film. The Netflix Original Series employs female in key positions as executive producers, casting directors, costume designers, stunt coordinators, and assistant directors. However, despite this relatively gender-equal crew, Orange Is The New Black is only one series of hundred that are produced every year with little female involvement.
Why is this important? The industry has changed, no longer is every set or studio an exclusive man’s world. However the one to three “token” women on every set have been relegated to the roles that cater to traditional woman roles such as the costume, makeup, hair, and art departments.

 Every year the number of women in the Entertainment Industry grows, mostly due to the increase of female PA’s and interns.  The most notable internship programs at the major studios attempt to employ an equal number of females and males- sometimes even more females than males! However, even with these giant conglomerate diversity initiatives, most females find internships within development (assistant training), broadcast news, and new digital media. Whereas coveted production management, production, legal, and business/corporate internships often land in male interns laps.

The rise of Digital Media in the last 10 years has provided more opportunities for women to hold key creative roles, executive positions within and outside of the studio system, and has a higher ratio of females to males than any other department in the industry. However, this all changes in the PRODUCTION of digital media content as most Network Digital Media studios are controlled by male department heads. These male department heads hire male editors, male cinematographers, and male directors. Women have emerged on YouTube as creative content creators, but they are often assisted by male camera-men and editors. Again, even in this new industry, women are shut out of traditional production roles.

It’s not just production. At every ladder in the entertainment food chain, women are less and less represented. That relatively equal level at the intern stage, disappears during entry-level employment. Males begin to dominate in management positions and women hold very little VP and CEO titles, even in digital media. Don’t think Netflix is exempt because they created a feminist-friendly show, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. Netflix has only one high-level  female executive (the Chief Talent Officer, Tawni Cranz) and one female member of the board. They even included a past member of the board on their website page in order to fool causal viewers that they have a higher amount of female officers than they have. Check it out here.

Likewise, Marker Studios (yes, the one that just closed a billion dollar deal with Disney) only have two female executives- one of which was a co-founder!

Things are changing. Women are moving up the chain and studio system both in New Media and traditional entertainment. However, they are doing so slowly- barley scratching the surface of Production departments. Women have excelled as creators and producers in recent years- and the world has taken notice…just think of the buzz ORANGE is getting this weekend.  But the male dominated CEO seats and technical trades are unwilling to give up their positions just yet, leading to stagnant jobs for many ambitious females in the film industry.  Things are not changing fast enough.


ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK is groundbreaking for its portrayal of women, female cast, and the inclusion of women in key production positions. But it is the exception to the rule, not a revolution. 

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