Women in Film

Writers: Mariette Ehab and Malak Sayed

Editor: Nada Elnady

Designer: Malak Raslan

In these recent years, the film industry has started to reevaluate the roles of women, whether on or off-screen, and how they managed to be the leading ladies and those behind the magic. At the height of our own Egyptian #MeToo movement, Netflix released a female youth empowering movie, “Moxie”, that strengthened the female point of view in the media worldwide. That movie, and others like it such as “Little Women” or “Legally Blonde”, have touched on so many topics that interest us as women immensely. That is why we are writing this today, to shed light on some women that have represented their gender amazingly in the film industry, as directors, actors, costume designers, music composers, and more. Women have held great positions in film these recent years, and we are here to celebrate them. So here are 10 women that deserve our admiration in this industry.

  1. Hedy Lamarr

Hope and curiosity about the future seemed better than guarantees. That’s the way I was. The unknown was always so attractive to me…. and still is.

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr, the actress that stunned the world with her utmost beauty and iconic movies in the 40s, had another side. Sadly enough, the world refused to speak about the fact that she was also an inventor at her time. She invented something called “Frequency hopping”, which is basically a method used to rapidly switch transmitting radio signals among several frequency channels in order to avoid interferences and secure communications. The actress worked in World War II alongside her composer George Antheil to develop this method, but the military chose to file it away. Despite that, they started using it without her knowledge on a lot of other technological advancements, and the concept became the base of all kinds of wireless communications like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS.

2. Mona Zaki

Another actress who deserves to be mentioned is Mona Zaki, not only because of her amazing talent and ability to accurately convey difficult emotions to the audiences, such as in the infamous movie “Sahar El Layali” or her more humorous side in “Keda OK”, but also because of her off-screen work. Away from the camera spotlights, she is a major advocate to multiple charities and non-profits and an ambassador for “Yanabee El Hayah”, a non-profit organization that encourages blood donation in coordination with The World Health Organization.

3. Chloe Zhao

There’s a chance that you may have not heard about this name before because we sure were quite clueless when we first came across her. If we’re correct, then you’re in for a treat, our friend, since this woman was the first woman of color to be nominated for directing, editing, writing, and producing in the academy awards. She won the best director for her movie Nomadland 2020, which also makes her the second woman to also win in this field after Kathryn Bigelow in the entire history of the Oscars. And it doesn’t stop here: she also won two British academy awards, two golden globes, and many other awards including industry, film festivals, and film critics ones. This woman has truly made history, but for some reason, she still didn’t get the exposure that she deserves, not even close to her male colleagues, which represents the underlying unfairness that females go through in this industry. Oh and also, she’s directing the new marvel movie Eternals, starring Angelina Jolie! So make sure to see that when it’s released in cinemas! For now though, you should go watch the Nomadland :>.

4. Greta gerwig

Stepping behind the camera again, we encounter the amazing director Greta Gerwig. The infamous director of movies such as “Little Women” and “Lady Bird” has left her mark in the industry in a way that we have not seen before. Not only is she a director, but she’s also a screenwriter whose ability to portray women with such depth and accuracy has made her a favourite amongst the audience. Her direction and writing help highlight the complex mannerisms of women and how the mind and the heart are not always in sync. This has to lead to a great deal of trouble for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences during the Oscar season in 2020, as no female directors were nominated “Best Directors”, and the Academy was criticized for not choosing Gerwig, at least, for her impeccable work on “Little Women.

5. Colleen Atwood

Let’s take your mind on a walk down memory lane for a moment. Let’s remember some old childhood movies. Start with Alice in the Wonderland (we want you to remember this one vividly), then Sweeny Todd. Next comes Sleepy Hallows. Maybe you’re more familiar with something like Snow White and the HuntsmanInto the Woods, or A Series of Unfortunate Events. Perhaps something a bit new can help, like Fantastic Beasts or Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Well, if you knew at least one of these movies we mentioned, we bet you thought about certain colors or characters and how weirdly but accurately they were represented. Now, we want you to imagine the same movie but without the character clothes and looks. How do you feel now? Does the movie feel a little more disappointing? If you think so, then you may now understand a little more about the work of a good custom designer like the great Colleen Atwood. We wish we could list more of her other films, but this woman did A LOT of these. Actually, she was nominated 12 times for the Oscars and won 4 others. To understand more about her exquisite and intricate designs, we suggest you watch her interview with Tim Burton on Dumbo https://youtu.be/ZrBweQ3qW3Q or her talk about her collection for The Huntsman: Winter’s Warhttps://youtu.be/KAxgx8ZYKzk

6. Zendaya

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 26: Zendaya attends the Premiere Of Sony Pictures’ “Spider-Man Far From Home” at TCL Chinese Theatre on June 26, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Glenn Francis/Pacific Pro Digital Photography)

The next woman on the list is Zendaya. A classic triple threat, Zendaya is an actress, singer, and dancer who is also known as the Disney Channel child star from “Shake It Up” and “K.C Undercover”. Recently, she started breaking out of that box by leading projects like “Malcolm and Marie” and “Euphoria”. Her ability to show the world her range by taking up projects that showcase her talent has lead her to make history, where she became the youngest woman to win “Best Actress in a Drama Series” at the Emmys in 2020. She won the award for the role of “Rue Bennett” on “Euphoria” because of the rawness of the emotions she portrayed; she was able to make people laugh, cry, scream, and everything in between.

​​7. Ruth E. Carter

In this Jan. 15, 2019 photo, designer Ruth E. Carter poses for a portrait in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Ruth E. Carter is the legendary custom designer of marvel’s “Black Panther” and the first black woman to win an academy award for Custom Design. Carter’s afro-future designs in movies were equal parts tradition and innovation; she has travelled across Africa to collect traditions from different tribes and different people to incorporate to her given wardrobe while using also new technology like 3D printing. To build a complete wardrobe for a completely fictional world and creating it this real is an incredible task, especially as a black woman already going through hardships in this not-so-fair industry. She also worked in other great films like Coming to America 2 and Malcolm X to create exquisite ensembles which truly reflects her genius. I highly recommend checking her Vanity Fair interview, where she describes her work in much more detail.

8. Hildur Guðnadóttir

Another woman that we were privileged to see make history is Hildur Guðnadóttir. The music composer was the first Icelander to win an Oscar, the first solo female composer to win a Golden Globe, and the first to win a BAFTA for her work on “Joker”, the infamous thriller based on the notorious DC Comics villain. She made history by being the first woman to finally win an Oscar for “Best Original Score” (after the two categories “Original Dramatic Score” and “Original Musical or Comedy Score” were combined to become the category that it is today). She also won an Emmy, a BAFTA, and a Grammy for her composition in “Chernobyl”, the limited TV series. Her wrap sheet is beyond fascinating and she had won awards in multiple shows and festivals worldwide.

9. Dana Leigh Murray

Murray is a Pixar animation studios film producer. She’s best known for her recent work in the animation Soul that won an Oscar in best animated feature. She also participated in Inside OutRatatouilleBraveUp, and Finding Nemo in all kinds of fields like producing, production management, art management, layout management, light management, and unit coordination.

10. Amina Khalil

Last but not least, we have our very own Amina Khalil, who was able to leave her mark on the world through her work on the screen and in real life. Khalil has been able to perfectly portray a woman with ADHD in her latest work Khaly Balak Men Zizi as well as a woman who decided to grow independent from her family in Leih Laa. Both of these roles have highlighted issues that we face each day, which helped her raise awareness of mental health issues and empower young women in today’s society. Not only that, but she was also named as one of the United Nations Population Fund honorary ambassadors.

Now that you saw all of that, I want you to reconsider your thoughts, not only about the film industry, but about all the stuff that you guys think of as normal or easy but we women think of as an obstacle. Researching about this topic truly cleared some stuff for us and opened our minds to a new world (one that we never thought existed in this way as a basic normality). And what hit us most was our ignorance about what women truly go through to achieve something even in the film industry, which we always see dominated by strong and beautiful actresses. We feel like we truly need a recap on history, and we genuinely hope this article helped you see something new like it did to us.