time's up challenge

2018 saw a dramatic dip in female directors working in Hollywood — an already low-statistic that can’t afford to take any more hits. This in spite of the work of the Time’s Up and Me Too movements that have taken Hollywood by storm, making accountable the powerful men and abusers who had eluded justice before.

But it’s not enough just to call out abusers, Hollywood needs to prop up underrepresented women as well. That’s what the new Time’s Up Challenge is about: encouraging Hollywood’s movers and shakers to work with a female director in the next 18 months. Proposed by Tessa Thompson, the challenge is called the #4PercentChallenge, based on the measly fraction of women who have directed the top 100 studio films in the last decade, and has already been accepted by dozens of directors, producers, writers, and actors.

More than 50 high-profile Hollywood producers, including Reese Witherspoon, J.J. Abrams, and Jordan Peele, have taken up the Time’s Up challenge of hiring at least one female director in the next 18 months.

The challenge was issued by Thompson, an outspoken advocate for women’s issues in Hollywood, at the Sundance Film Festival. At the festival, Thompson declared (via Pajiba):

“Because only 4 percent of the top 100 studio films over the last decade have been directed by women, Times Up is initiating a challenge, the 4 percent challenge, and I intend to take it. I commit to working with a female director in the next 18 months.”

The 4% statistic comes from the Annenberg Initiative’s finding that, “only 4% of the top 100 studio films were directed by women.” It’s an unfortunate reality that was compounded by the recent study that only 8% of women directed the top 250 top-grossing movies last year, down from 11% in 2017. This despite the fact that female directors are doing more visible, critically acclaimed work than ever — work that ended up still being snubbed during awards season. And this comes after ample evidence suggests that women-led entertainment performs better at the box office.

Immediately following Thompson’s challenge, which was organized by Time’s Up and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, stars like Get Out director Jordan Peele, Captain Marvel‘s Brie Larson, Crazy Rich Asians star Constance Wu, Star Wars director J.J. Abrams, and Reese Witherspoon accepted the challenge. Lena Waithe, Rashida Jones, Olivia Wilde, Armie Hammer, Kumail Nanjiani, Josh Gad, Amy Pascal, Bryce Dallas Howard, Eva Longoria, Rachel Brosnahan, Janet Mock, Brad Simpson and Kerry Washington are among those who followed suit.

Even before this challenge was officially issued, Regina King was the first to pledge to taking the 4% Challenge during her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, vowing to employ at least 50% women on everything she produces.

And it’s a challenge not just for the movers and shakers of Hollywood. Fans and movie lovers and get involved too by referring to the list below.

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