The Women who made history at 2021 Golden Globes

The 78th Annual Golden Globes took place on 28 February 2021. A very different awards show to previous years, the entire event took place virtually. As you can imagine, there were numerous cringe moments that went along with it. Imagine zoom glitches on the big screen. However, history was made this year with three iconic women nominated for previously male-dominated awards. 

When you search “Women in Film ” on Google, the first result is an article about the inequalities within the industry (Wikipedia), and as you scroll down, you then hit the ‘Best Dressed’ territory. There are barely any other articles or videos with the first search algorithm. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a great lover of fashion, but how is it that we associate these nominated women with the gúna they wore to the event, rather than the awards they won? This year has been a slow turnaround of work for the film and TV industry. Many series, such as Normal People, were lucky enough to have most of their filming completed before the pandemic and lockdowns. A lot of very interesting and upcoming artists were recognised that may not have been, if not for the small body of produced work that was being judged.

Women in Film

According to a 2013 study by the Centre of Women in Television and Film, 18% of all directors, producers, writers and editors were women. In the 2019 update, women artists made up 8% of directors, 16% of writers, 4% of cinematographers and 35% of film characters in speaking roles were female compared to 82% male. There has always been an issue of representation in film and TV, in relation to gender, body, or disability but it has also become blatantly clear that racial minorities are not properly represented in film. Black females increased to just 16%, Latinas at 7% and Asian females at 10%.

If we look back to Marilyn Monroe and the Hollywood ‘glam’ era, we can see discrimination towards the female form, representation, and ability in film. Women were typically represented as the sex object, the ‘manic pixie girl’, or the mother figure. The need for stronger female characters and writing is there, but change is coming only slowly.

The Me Too movement has been an historic turning point for women’s representation in the film and TV industry, focusing on the experiences of survivors of sexual assault. In 2017, actress Alyssa Milano pressed for the need for action in the area of assault and discrimination in the industry, which subsequently led to numerous Hollywood actors speaking out against the abuse they faced in their working enviroment, with many involving producer Harvey Weinstein.

Evidently, there has been a much needed and welcomed shift towards the empowering of women in the film industry, but we still have a long way to go.

Making History

Three women were nominated for their directorial and writing work; Regina King, Chloe Zhao, and Emerald Fennel.

Regina King’s film, One Night in Miami, follows the story of the historic meeting of Malcolm X, Muhammed Ali, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke in the 1960s. She was nominated for Best Director. Chloe Zhao was nominated and won Best Director for Nomadland, which is the story of a woman who sells all her belongings, buys a car, and travels through America as a nomad. The winning screenplay was written by Emerald Fennell, who was also nominated for Best Director for her film Promising Young Woman. 

Zhao is the second woman ever to win Best Director at the Golden Globes and the first female of Asian descent to win. That says a lot about the Festival doesn’t it?

Zhao was born in Beijing in 1982. She refers to herself as a rebellious child, often influenced by Western pop culture. She moved to London to attend boarding school, then to Los Angeles to attend High School, and later obtained a degree in Political Science. She began her film career in 2010. Her short film Daughters premiered at the Clement-Ferrand International Film Festival, winning best student live action short. It has been an amazing turn in the right direction to see Zhao win the award, and for two other female creative nominees, hopefully this will continue.

Upcoming Actresses

Notably, there were some new shining stars nominated and awarded at this year’s Golden Globes. Netflix’ series The Crown swept the board, winning numerous awards including Best TV Series-Drama, but the event especially highlighted a younger generation of rising talent.

Emma Corrin won best Actress for her role as Diana in Season 4 of The Crown. At just twenty six years of age, Corrin performed the role extraordinarily. As she is the same age as myself, it is amazing to see a young talent climb through the ranks and win on her feature debut. Another notable actress who was nominated for Best Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture made for TV is Shira Haas for her role in Unorthodox. A young Israeli woman, Haas stunned audiences with her beautiful performance in this Netflix series based on the true story of Derborah Feldman. Haas came runner up to winner Anya Taylor-Joy who is another upcoming star from the series The Queen’s Gambet, also giving a fantastic performance.

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Anya Taylor Joy
Photo by Gage Skidmor
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Emma Corrin as Diana Photo by Willie Des/Netflix ©Netflix 2020, inc
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Shira Haas
Photo from Hollywood on YouTube -Israeli entertainment on foreign TV-panel at Israeli Film Festival, LA

It is a sign of positive progress to see women portraying very strong characters and nationalities shortlisted and nominated for these awards. Other notable Best Actress nominees included Andra Day in United State vs Billie Holiday, Catherine O’Hara in Schitt’s Creek, Gillian Anderson in The Crown and Rosamund Pike in I Care A Lot.

History was made and the future path for female creatives paved. The hope of a more inclusive industry still at the forefront, along with the need for greater diversity. We look forward to the Oscar 2021 nominations.

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About the author

KathyAnn Murphy

KathyAnn is a playwright, theatre and film designer and director from Co. Wicklow. She holds an MA in Theatre Practise and a BA in Design for Stage and Screen. She is a third level tutor, drama teacher and is currently studying a Diploma in Irish Studies. KathyAnn has a great interest in the arts, social justice, history and music.

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