Tag Archives: success

The Measures of Success

I always wanted to be successful in my chosen career. Of course, everyone has those ambitions. No one strives to be mediocre. But success can be a lonely place if you let it all go to your head. Tonight we celebrated our soon-to-be-wrapped movie. At first it was awkward. No one knew if it was ok to let loose, dance, drink, and be merry. Finally, our director threw up her hands and started dancing and never stopped. She danced with everyone, no matter if she knew them or not. Once she started, everyone took it as their cue and FINALLY, FINALLY shed their stoic exteriors, threw back some drinks and hit the dance floor. We all had a ball. The playing field had been leveled. It lead me to thinking, “if only the tone during production could have been like this. If only she had jumped in, arms raised, and started dancing.” We all would have followed, with wild abandon, and gladly joined her in the conga line. Watching her for a moment, I almost had respect for her. I saw the person she could be (and maybe was, at some point in her life).

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As I was leaving, we ended up riding down alone together in the elevator. We had never had a conversation. She started one. I introduced myself. She glanced up at me. “Of course,” she said. “You’re Ashley. I might need you to do some things for me this week.” I watched her, wearing her black-framed glasses, dressed impeccably (of course) in head-to-toe black, her hair still perfectly coiffed, eyes glued to her Blackberry screen. I also saw a very lonely woman. One that can only let go a little bit for one night. One who sees only what others have to offer her. One who will keep making the same movie, over and over again, telling the single story she owns, because it’s the only thing she can do for herself. We exited the elevator. She didn’t say good night. Just stood there, waiting for her car to pick her up. I hailed a cab and headed back downtown, happy I know how to do things for myself, how to wear glasses that aren’t always rose-colored. In that moment I realized I am successful. I know who I am, I see what other people have to offer the world, and I know that sometimes, to get everyone on-board, you just have to throw up your hands and dance.

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A Note From the Trenches

I’ve had the opportunity to work with some extraordinary women in Hollywood who have paved quite a path for themselves. But as much as they’ve helped change the landscape for the women that come after them, they also do their best to bring them down. For a young woman in the film industry, trying to make a name for herself, whether it be on a studio lot, casting couch, in a production office or on a set, there is still that feeling of “there’s only one seat at the table for a woman and that seat’s going to be mine.” The camaraderie is almost non-existent.

I’ve worked in several aspects of the industry since I was a teenager. Now, in my late 20’s, I find myself even more jaded of other woman, especially those just above me. I used to love working for female bosses, I thought of many of them as my mentors, but the harder I worked, the more I was recognized, and that resulted in backlash from those women or put them on the defensive. I’m currently working on a big-budget film helmed by a female 201925all-about-eve-postersauteur, with a crew heavily tipping in favor of the double x chromosome. You would think, “yay for women!” And, at first, I had that glimmer of hope, maybe this would be different. But in fact, it’s not.

It’s disappointing and a let down. I notice woman of a certain generation are not necessarily ready and willing to help mentor or groom the next generation in the same way that our male counterparts are. As a result, we’re blowing some of our biggest chances on ego. Instead of applauding for our gender, we’re thinking of ways to undermine each other. It’s a sad state, but one that I’m confident can be righted, if there were more women reaching out or reaching down. I want to think the best of my generation. I want us to be the first to elect a female president, see higher numbers of women in CEO positions, running studios, helming everything from dramas to comedies and action flicks. I know it’s possible, it’s just a matter of finding the ones that are the real feminists, the real supporters of our gender.

I know despite how others act, I will continue to look behind me, not our of fear of who maybe on my heels, but to see what talented young woman I can bring with me, to stand along side me as a colleague, a feminist, and a force of nature. I wish everyone thought the same way. Imagine what we could accomplish if they did.