Actresses take stand for equality with Time’s Up movement leading to industry-wide discussion

Noelle Henry

A political statement dominated the wardrobes of many actors and actresses at this year’s Golden Globes — black attire and a pin. In honor of the Time’s Up movement, this year’s Golden Globes provided a public acknowledgment of the abuse that women in the entertainment business, and practically every other
industry, endure.

The Time’s Up and #MeToo movements emerged as an outraged reaction to the release of the sexually inappropriate and sexist behavior from mogul producer Harvey Weinstein. Conveying her concern, Cindy McCreery, radio-television-film associate professor — who is currently developing a new show for AMC — said the belittling of women on sets is all too common.

“I have worked in the industry for a long time,” McCreery said. “And honestly, what happened with Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein wasn’t very surprising to me. I am just relieved that future generations in the industry will hopefully have safer and more equal environments.”

Although the movement’s attention has largely been focused on sexual harassment and assault, the movement calls for change in areas such as equal pay and opportunity for working women. Madeleine Klein, an alumna of UT-Austin with a degree in radio-television-film, has worked on sets for advertisements and short films. Klein said she feels inequality in the interactions she has had on sets.

“I’ve been called to shoot on set at UT just to be a token woman for promotional purposes,” Klein said. “I’ve been talked over and around on my own sets.”  

Klein said even though these are “small aggressions,” they contribute to the bigger picture of the disrespect that women face in the entertainment industry. Furthermore, Klein said even though she finds the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements exciting, it will take quite some time for the industry to change.

“Women make up barely a quarter of most high-standing positions, and women of color even less,” Klein said.

On the other hand, the movement has received criticism for being too harsh on men. French actress Catherine Deneuve signed an open letter that claimed the movement was based on “hatred of men and sexuality.” Deneuve has since renounced her support of the letter, but her actions opened a new discussion of whether the movement was valid in its treatment of men.

Kennedy Abney, radio-television-film senior, supports the Time’s Up movement, though she is sympathetic to Deneuve’s stance.

“To an extent, I do agree with Catherine Deneuve that some critics are being too harsh on men,” Abney said. “All complaints should be taken seriously, but not all bad behavior is equal.” 

Klein said the mistreatment of women spreads through every level of the industry and includes people from screenwriters to crew members, not
just actresses.

“Gender inequality is a plague on the industry which needs to be addressed from every angle,” Klein said. “(That means) In terms of equal pay, rhetoric and treatment of women in scripts, treatment and equality of women on set, in editing rooms, distribution, in front and behind the cameras.”

As far as solutions, Abney said the issue rests in the discrepancy in representation between men and women in different positions in the industry.

“The more women you have behind the camera and writing screenplays, the more that issue will take care of itself,” Abney said.

Time’s Up aims to create long-lasting changes within the structural system of the industry. Students and faculty believe that by acknowledging the issues that are present in gender inequality, there is already progress.

“I do have a lot of hope in the future by working with students,” McCreery said. “The next generation of filmmakers, I believe, are more thoughtful, open and compassionate than their predecessors.”