In 2012, the ratio of men working on films to women was 5:1. Less than 20% of the writers and executive producers in Hollywood are female and the percentage is even lower for directors. It’s even harder to find successful people of color in the industry. In the last twenty years, winners in the Best Director of a Comedy Series at the Emmy Awards were 100% white. But somehow amidst all of this, Shonda Rhimes was able to arise as an accomplished writer and producer.
Much like Mindy Kaling (another writer and producer), Shonda Rhimes attended Dartmouth University. She would later obtain a Master’s Degree from USC and was ranked at the top of her class. By 2004 Rhimes would direct her own film, pen the acting debut of Britney Spears (Crossroads) and write the sequel to The Princess Diaries. It wasn’t until 2005 that Rhimes’ career really took off. She would come to be known as the creator, executive producer and headwriter of Grey’s Anatomy, a show that is still airing. Rhimes would also write and produce the 2012 hit show Scandal.
As of 2014, Rhimes has won a Golden Globe, five Image Awards, a WGA Award, a PGA Award and has been nominated for 3 Emmy Awards. She even has her onw production company, called Shondaland where she oversees 550 actors, writers, crew members and producers. With several new projects on the way, it’s hard to believe that Rhimes could go anywhere but up. Channing Dungey, executive vice president of the Drama Department at ABC, describes Rhimes as “incredibly important […]If she came in tomorrow and said, ‘I have a great idea,’ I would jump at it.”
You can find Shonda Rhimes on Twitter. Grey’s Anatomy airs on Thursday nights at 9/8c on ABC.
To learn more about gender inequality in film, click here. To learn more about race inequality click here and here.
Usually when I speak to people about Aziz Ansari I receive blank stares. If I mention Tom Haverford from NBC’s Parks and Recreation though, people know exactly who I’m talking about it. To me, this is problematic because Ansari is an incredibly talented actor and comedian. I first discovered Ansari through the 2009 film Funny People and later stumbled upon his stand-up comedy. Although Aziz has a steady role in Parks and Recreation, it would be nice to see him gain more exposure.
Before he became famous, Ansari was a frequent performer with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. This venue for comedy shows also housed many famous alumni like Amy Poehler, Adam Pally and Donald Glover. At the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre Ansari performed both stand up and sketch comedy. Shortly after this, Ansari made his first big break in the 2007 MTV sketch comedy series, Human Giant.
Rob Huebel, Paul Christian Scheer & Aziz Ansari
As Ansari gained more recognition for his talent, he was able to carve out a very special place for himself. Ansari would be seen in a music video with Kanye West and Jay-Z. In late 2013, he was one of nine comedians who roasted James Franco. He would have guest roles in many popular television shows but still Ansari has not become a household name.
Although Ansari currently has no upcoming projects for 2014, he has been doing a lot of charity work. In 2012, he participated in an animated video for Oxfam America to encourage donations. More recently, he performed at a benefit for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings at the Wilbur Theater in Boston.
Aziz Ansari is on Tumblr, Twitter, Youtube and Facebook. He is also currently doing a stand-up tour which you can buy tickets for on the Ticketmaster website.
BBC Three’s Some Girls
It’s not very common for us to see televisions shows and films that focus primarily on average women. In recent years however this has started to change. Shows like HBO’s Girls and ABC’s Scandal have started to become more and more popular and pave the way for other similar shows. Now that we know shows about women can in fact be very successful, shows like the BBC Three comedy Some Girls, have room to grow.
The first thing that makes Some Girls so interesting is that the main cast is a diverse group of young women. The group consists of Viva Bennet (played by Adelayo Adedayo), Saz Kaur (Mandeep Dhillon), Holli Vavasour (Natasha Jonas) and Amber Dean (Alice Felgate). The series follows this group of friends as they navigate their adolescence. But what makes Some Girls better than other teen dramas, is the writing. The bonds these girls have formed feel realistic and the characters are incredibly relatable.
So what else makes Some Girls so special? For one thing, it is one of the few shows on television today, that promotes a healthy attitude about sex and sexuality. The main characters are never ashamed of their sexual exploits and view sex in a mature way. When one character questions her sexuality, her friends are all very supportive and it never seems like a PSA. That’s because Some Girls tackles issues that real girls deal with.
Some Girls (BBC)
In addition to being refreshingly diverse, Some Girls is also pretty funny. The show was recently picked up for a third season. The first season is available for free on Hulu. All four of the girls have twitter accounts (Alice Felgate, Adelayo Adedayo, Natasha Jonas & Mandeep Dhillon).
One of the most important things about acting is stage presence. Presence is what can make or break an actor’s career. The first time I saw Nicole Beharie on screen I instantly connected with her. She exuded this elegant, calm quality in the 2011 film Shame. Her character, Marianne, was one of the first portrayals of a “normal” black woman I had ever seen. Her character wasn’t addicted to any illegal substances or living off of welfare and she certainly wasn’t the sassy best friend. Marianne was just a regular woman. Unfortunately Shame is more about the life of a man who is addicted to sex but, it was the breakout role for Beharie.
Two years after Shame, Beharie landed a lead role in the Fox show Sleepy Hollow. Once again Beharie neglects to play a simple stereotype or caricature. She plays Lieutenant Abbie Mills who tries to combat the end of days with the help of a Revolutionary War captain who finds himself in present-day Sleepy Hollow.
Nicole Beharie as Lieutenant Abbie Mills
It’s no surprise that Beharie is such a talented actress since she’s an alum of Julliard. Her education at Julliard would lead her to act in the Broadway play, A Free Man of Color.In addition to acting, Beharie is also a talented songstress. In the 2013 film, My Last Day Without You, she performed five songs that appear on the film’s original soundtrack.
Nicole Beharie can be found on Twitter and Instagram. Sleepy Hollow returns this Fall to Fox.
Sometimes we see actors who are right on the cusp of breaking out into Hollywood, but then they never do. This is often the case with actors who are minorities. Regardless of their talent and charm, some of them will never become household names. 31 year old actor John Cho nearly suffered this fate. He was one of the stars of the 2004 hit, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle but for several years after bounced from obscure project to obscure project. Finally in 2013, John Cho seems to have bounced back, going from a relative unknown to once again being on the cusp of fame.
Cho landed a role in Star Trek: Into the Darkness, which made audiences start to take notice of him once again. His role as Sulu was once played by George Takei who has nothing but kind words for him. In an interview with Larry King, Takei says that Cho is “a good actor [who] has talent, […] good looks [and] energy.” Following Star Trek, Cho appeared in the Fox drama, Sleepy Hollow. While the show will return for a second season, executive producers are hesitant to say if Cho’s character, Andy Brooks will return.
John Cho and Karen Gillan filming Selfie.
John Cho also recently filmed the pilot for Selfie, a comedy with Doctor Who actress Karen Gillan. The show will air on ABC and revolves around social media and how some of us are better at dealing with it than others. Aside from this upcoming show, John Cho can be found on Twitter or in upcoming film, Zipper.
By now, you’ve probably heard of the MTV show, Teen Wolf. Some people love it, while others hate it, but either way it has taken audiences by storm. Teen Wolf began in 2011 as a remake of the 1985 film of the same name, starring Michael J Fox. But the MTV show has quickly spiraled into something more. It follows sixteen-year old Scott McCall, played by 21-year-old Tyler Posey. Somehow Posey, makes the transition to a sixteen year old effortlessly and we have no trouble believing the character of Scott McCall. The show follows the adventures of Scott- who is a werewolf- and his best friends as they struggle with adolescence and supernatural threats. There’s never a dull moment in the show, which is in part due to the incredible acting of the main cast.
Teen Wolf might be Posey’s break out role but it’s certainly not his first role. He’s been working in the entertainment industry since 2000. You might even recognize him from Maid in Manhattan(2001).
Tyler Posey and Jennifer Lopez in the Maid in Manhattan
Just like most actors in this new generation, Posey is a musician. He is the vocalist and guitarist of Disappearing Jamie. He can also be found on Twitter, Instagram and on his own website. He can also be seen in the upcoming film Taco Shop.
Teen Wolf is on at 10/9c on MTV on Monday nights. Although the current season is over, the show will return with a new season on June 23, 2014.
A kitsune is the Japanese word for fox. A young kitsune cannot mask its aura which gives away its true nature. Arden Cho plays a kitsune named Kira on the MTV show Teen Wolf. And although I’ve learned my lesson about trusting characters on Teen Wolf, I think it’s safe to say that Cho has the potential to be big. Landing a prominent roll on a popular show is a pretty big deal, especially when the fanbase immediately takes a liking to you.
If we rewind a few years however, we’ll see that Cho is a woman of many diverse talents. She studied piano for eight years and cello for six, took four years of dance studio and six years of gymnastics. She can sing, has seven years of training in martial arts and just when I thought she couldn’t possibly do more, I learned that she was named Miss Korea Chicago in 2004. She would go on to model for Clinique, Apple and Alexander McQueen. Cho also has her own Youtube channel where she posts covers of popular song and occasionally vlogs.
Before Teen Wolf, Arden Cho appeared on many other popular television shows like Pretty Little Liars and Rizzoli and Isles. Links to her performances can be found on her other Youtube channel. In addition to Teen Wolf she has two upcoming films for the coming years.
Arden Cho can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. Teen Wolf can be seen on Monday nights at 10/9c on MTV.
- Mindy Kaling
Perhaps you’ve seen this bombshell beauty play Kelly Kapoor in the hit show The Office. Or maybe you saw her in the summer comedy This is the End. It’s possible that you’ve seen Mindy Kaling in her new show The Mindy Project, where she is not only the star but also the writer and producer. Mindy Kaling is no stranger to the entertainment business but somehow when I mention her name, people don’t seem to know who she is. How this woman managed to write for one of the most popular shows of its time (The Office), publish her own book and star in her own show and go so unnoticed is remarkable.
Mindy Kaling is the first South Asian-American to headline their own network show. If she isn’t a sufficient role model for young women of color on the basis of that, there’s more. Kaling became a writer for The Office at twenty-four years old and was the only woman on a staff of eight. She went on to write 22 episodes and was co-nominated for an Emmy. Kaling even graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College.
What makes Kaling’s story even more incredible is her tremendous talent. Her show The Mindy Project is an interesting take on wacky office comedy trope. Her character, Mindy Lahiri is a single gynecologist living in New York City. Her character deals with a lot of issues like weight and body-shaming, something Kaling herself is no stranger to. Controversy broke out recently over her Elle magazine cover, because many believed the magazine’s decision to only show some of Kaling’s body on the cover was an indiscreet commentary on her weight. While she might not be a size zero, Kaling and I both agree that she looks absolutely stunning.
The Mindy Project returns on Tuesday April 1, 2014 on Fox. You can catch Mindy on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Kylie Bunbury is only twenty-five years old but is already one of three leads on ABC Family’s drama Twisted. While the show is popular, the sky’s the limit for Bunbury. She originally started out as a model and was told to try acting, which seemed to be the right idea. With two supporting roles in the relatively popular films Prom and The Sitter, Bunbury landed a more prominent role in Twisted. While she isn’t the star of Twisted, many viewers find themselves invested in her character because of her incredible screen presence. She manages to transcend many of the roles typically assigned to women of color and bring life to an otherwise 2 dimensional character.
Bunbury plays Lacey Porter in Twisted, a popular straight-A student, whose best friend is murdered. Lacey has to deal with that along with the fact that her childhood best friend has just been released from prison. The show certainly has its flaws but Bunbury is able to do well with what she’s given. Twisted can be seen on ABC Family at 9/8c on Tuesdays. Bunbury can also be seen in the Abercrombie & Fitch Making of a Star Campaign.
Bunbury has her own Twitter and Instagram.