Why We Need More Strong Female Film Roles

In today’s growing global political climate and all the recent reports surfacing around sexual harassment, particularly in the entertainment industry, it’s more important than ever that we see strong women in strong positions in our media, movies, and shows.

As Gal Gadot said recently in an episode of Variety‘s “Actors on Actors” series, “there cannot be women empowerment if women don’t have this visual in their subconsciousness, and if men don’t have it either. It’s important for boys and men to see that a woman can be super great.”

And it is happening, finally.

The ‘Wonder Woman’ blockbuster success has finally put female-driven tentpole films at the top of everyone’s radar and demonstrated their value and worth. And that, in turn, is helping women and girls the world over to see their own value and worth.

So I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of these strong female-driven films in theaters and on our screens and in big ad campaigns, for all the world’s eyeballs to see.

We’re also seeing more women get into the game of creating these films and leading female roles, which is exactly what we need.’Wonder Woman’ director Patty Jenkins became the first woman to direct an American studio superhero movie, not to mention the fact that it was a female-led superhero movie! And now with that film’s undisputed success and the subsequent development of a sequel, Jenkins will also be the first female director to helm the first two installments of a major franchise.

This is huge, people!

Then there’s the indomitable Ava DuVernay, who has set many records as the first African-American female director to receive Golden Globe and Best Picture Oscar nominations for her Martin Luther King Jr. biopic ‘Selma’ in 2014, and most recently as the first woman of color to direct a major blockbuster movie with the $100 million dollar budget Disney tentpole (and also female-packed) ‘A Wrinkle in Time.’

Reese Witherspoon’s production company and admirable endeavor is also a Tough Cookie dream. Under her banner Pacific Standard, she has been making it her mission to create more roles for women in film, both in front of and behind the camera, beginning with the highly grossing, award-nominated hits ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘Wild,’ and most recently with their wildly successful HBO miniseries ‘Big Little Lies,’ which stars Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, and Zoe Kravitz.

But as Gadot describes her reaction to seeing her film for the first time, “It was the first time for me — as a woman, a girl, a female — that I saw an image of strong women that are beautiful and confident and can take care of themselves. I was shocked by it, and then I was more shocked by the fact that I never saw anything like that.”

You said it, Gal. And I couldn’t agree more!

These may all be major milestones and amazing progress for women and girls, but they shouldn’t necessarily be. Because they should already be the norm. We are getting there though, slowly but surely, and this train shows no signs of slowing down or stopping.

So let’s give these pioneering ladies some credit where credit is absolutely due. Because they are doing incredible things, and it is certainly better late than never.

Happy #GivingTuesday to these amazing Tough Cookies, and to all others the world over who are doing their part to give more strong women a powerful voice and pervasive visual.

What’s your part?

Source: Variety and Variety

A Real Live Beauty: Emma Watson and the Beast

Disney is planning a live-action musical version of their classic tale “Beauty and the Beast”. And it’s bound to be quite a beauty of a film, given who they’ve cast to lead the show as the brave and beautiful brunette bookworm. She’s already made quite a name for herself playing a similarly stubborn bookworm. Guess who it is yet?

That’s right! Emma Watson!

MSDBEAN WD007

Bill Condon (“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”) will be directing the film. But no other roles have been cast yet, including the Beast himself. I’m sure they’ll have a tough time finding a man who’s mighty enough to convincingly tower over Tough Cookie Emma Watson, who I imagine would be a match for any man.

Production is set to begin later this year, so I imagine we won’t have to wait long to hear more. Watson seems excited to get started, writing on her Facebook page:

“I’m finally able to tell you… that I will be playing Belle in Disney’s new live-action Beauty and the Beast! It was such a big part of my growing up, it almost feels surreal that I’ll get to dance to ‘Be Our Guest’ and sing ‘Something There.’ My six year old self is on the ceiling – heart bursting. Time to start some singing lessons. I can’t wait for you to see it.”

And we can’t wait to see her in it!

“Beauty and the Beast’s” Belle is one of our time’s most exemplary, beloved Tough Cookie role models. Which is, unfortunately, a rarity among Disney’s lineup of past princesses and heroines. She’s smart, strong-willed, and not afraid to stand up for herself. And yet, she’s also sweet-tempered and kind to others. Strong and sweet!

In fact, Belle is one of the key inspirations behind a soon-to-be-released unstoppable Tough Cookie heroine of our own. Got your attention? Good. There’s more on that coming soon…

In the meantime, get excited about all these amazing live-action renditions of our favorite Tough Cookie characters coming out of the woodwork. And let that fuel your thinking about how you can exemplify those same admirable, beautiful characteristics in your own live action version of yourself!

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Melissa Benoist from Glee!

CBS is throwing their hat into the superhero ring, with their own hourlong drama TV show centered around none other than SuperGirl herself – one of the only iconic female superhero characters that had yet to be tapped for her own show… until now. Joining forces with Warner Bros, CBS finally has the writing and producing power to get their pilot off the ground.

And now they have their leading lady too. “Glee” alum Melissa Benoist has been chosen to star as Superman’s super duper cousin, SuperGirl aka Kara Zor-El.

Melissa Benoist as SuperGirl

CBS chair Nina Tassler said it perfectly when she told her network at their TCA Winter Press Tour,

“She embodied so many of the characteristics of classic female heroines on the network… We fell in love with the pitch.”

Tassler added that they were looking for just the right woman to cast in the title role. Someone with “quality, charisma. She’s got to be everywoman.” And it seems they found her in Tough Cookie Benoist. Can’t wait to see if they’re right!

In the meantime, I think this serves as a good reminder for us all to step up the super in our own lives. You don’t have to have the power to fly or lift a bus or burn things with your eyes to reach new heights, move people and change the world.

Every Tough Cookie has her own unique superpower. What’s yours?

A Wonder Woman To Direct Wonder Woman. No Wonder!

*UPDATE: After MacLaren’s departure from the Wonder Woman film due to “creative differences,” Warner Bros. could have chosen anyone to take over the helm. Anyone. And it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if they’d chosen a man. But they DIDN’T! To our very pleasant surprise, Warner Bros. took another big leap forward and chose the equally Tough Cookie Patty Jenkins to take the reins. And boy are we glad she did!


Wonderful news! Acclaimed bad-ass television director Michelle MacLaren, who has helmed the likes of Breaking Bad, Michelle Maclaren on Breaking BadGame of Thrones, and The Walking Dead, has been chosen to direct the recently announced “Wonder Woman” film starring Gal Gadot.

A wonder woman directing a film about Wonder Woman. Now that’s fitting.

This will be MacLaren’s first time directing a major tentpole film – an honor that has been a long time coming. So it’s not at all a surprise that it’s come now. Perhaps even a bit overdue. She’s been on the radar of many for some time now, including Warner Bros. EVP of Production and Development Greg Silverman, who is apparently a big fan of MacLaren’s work and has been trying to find the right project for her for awhile.

Now they seem to have found it in the much-anticipated (at least by me) standalone Wonder Woman film. And about time they made one, amiright?

Wonder Woman 2017_wonderI’ll admit I had my doubts about the casting choice of Gal Gadot to play the Amazonian title character. But in the bold and capable hands of Tough Cookie Michelle MacLaren, I feel much more confident that this film will do the character and the story justice, and be the shining beacon of female power and empowerment we all hope it will be.

The film is scheduled to bow on June 23, 2017. So until then, keep your eyes on the horizon (and on our other Tough Cookie stories) and get ready for the first glimpse of Gadot’s new Wonder Woman in the impending “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” film coming March 2016.

Ooo I just get so excited thinking about it! Don’t you?

Source: Variety, Variety

You Go ScarJo! The Star of the New “Ghost In The Shell” Reboot.

My favorite new female action star has some exciting news! She’s going to be headlining yet another iconic action story, this time from the land of Japanese anime.

Scarlett Johansson Ghost in the Shell

If you aren’t already familiar with anime, and are curious to check it out, you can’t go wrong with Ghost In The Shell.

And our beloved Scarlett Johansson is set to star as covert ops Major Motoko Kusanagi (or Monique Kutcher or whatever they plan to rename her), squad leader of Japanese counter-cyberterrorist organization Public Security Section 9, who also happens to be a hyper-intelligent, augmented cybernetic human.

A role that I suspect she will fit into quite nicely, if her past roles are any indicator.

Scarlett Johansson Under The SkinWhat’s perhaps most impressive about this news is how it shows Johansson’s ever-increasing ability to take the lead and get film projects green-lit on just her name. That’s practically unheard of for a woman in this industry. But she’s earned it. She proves herself worth every penny on that silver screen time after time. After a series of very well chosen, equally strong roles in Avengers, Under The Skin, Her, and Lucy, Johansson’s career seems to be on fire.

Now this Tough Cookie is showing us one hell of an example for how to keep that momentum going – how to continue taking your career and projects to the next level. It’s something we can all learn to do better.

So how about we take a page out of ScarJo’s book (or screenplay) and keep stepping up our own game.

What do ya say? How can you take your work to the next level?

Holy Female Leads, Batman! Jena Malone is Robin

I recently told you the incredible news about Wonder Woman’s return to the big screen in the upcoming “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” film, to be played by Gal Gadot.

Well now rumor has it that the same film will feature another female in a leading role – that of Robin, played by none other than the bad-ass Jena Malone!

Jena Malone as Robin

Now personally, I’ve always been a huge fan of Jena Malone – as far back as her early years playing a young Ellie in “Contact”, and who can forget her unforgettable performance as Gretchen Ross in “Donnie Darko”?

But more recently, Jena has been rising in the ranks of action stardom, taking on awesomely dynamic roles and shining in them – from “Sucker Punch”, to “Hatfields & McCoys”, and of course “The Hunger Games” series.

And soon she can add Robin, or rather Carrie Kelly, to that list. I’m so excited! Aren’t you?

Apparently, the beans were spilled by an extra on the set during filming in Detroit – unbeknownst to Warner Bros. themselves, who have since slapped that extra with a hefty $5 million fine given that they’d signed a non-disclosure agreement. Whoops.

Well, cat’s out of the bag now anyway. No point trying to stuff it back in and risk getting all clawed up. Might as well enjoy it and let it purr. 🙂

So now time to put it back to you Tough Cookies! I know we often don’t feel like the leading role in our own lives. And Robin may be Batman’s sidekick. But Jena Malone kicks so much ass, that I have a feeling she’ll end up being anything but a supporting role when that film comes out.

So how about you? How can you be more of a leading superhero in your own life?

Source: Variety

Give The World A Better Man

Happy Thanksgiving fellow Tough Cookies!

As we give thanks this Holiday season for all the fortunate things in your life, let’s take a moment to think about others who may not be so lucky – and extend our giving spirit to them.A Better Man documentary film

A Better Man is a new hopeful documentary film that is running an IndieGoGo campaign to help it achieves its mission – empower people to join the movement to END violence against women.

I couldn’t think of a more worthy cause – especially at this time of year.

As a Tough Cookie, this is an issue that I am deeply passionate about, so I would really love to see this film come to life and change the world.

And as a fellow filmmaker, I think it has the chance to achieve that – given the notably powerhouse team of experience filmmakers and survivors behind it, ready to sculpt it into reality.

Now I don’t normally use this website as a platform for pitching products or asking for money, but I do feel this project and cause are worth sharing. So if you are in a giving mood this holiday season, go check out the film’s IndieGoGo campaign to learn more.

Watch videos of the trailer and filmmakers behind the film, and see what you can contribute toward the completion of this poignant and moving project. Only 20 days left!

A Better Man film funding goalsAll of us Tough Cookies should give thanks this Thanksgiving for our own health, happiness and human rights.

But then if you feel so inspired, please join me in promoting the idea that every women and man in the world deserves the same. They deserve A Better Man.

My New Favorite Female Action Movie Star

I was never much of a fan of Scarlett Johansson. She always somehow managed to be just a bit annoying in every movie I saw her in, whether weirdly wooing Bill Murray in Lost In Translation or being the girl we love to hate, envy and pity at the same time in He’s Just Not That Into You. And don’t even get me started on Match Point.

But she’s not without talent. She just wasn’t well suited for the sexy girl-next-door role. She was meant for more than that. And it took the team at Marvel to see that.

There’s a reason she doesn’t play the sweet but sexy girl very well – it’s too obvious. We already all hate her for being more gorgeous than us. But then if she plays someone nicer or more beloved too? Well then why would we root for her?

But since Marvel turned her into the Black Widow, and then Luc Besson turned her into Lucy, we’ve been given a reason to root for Scarlett.

Now she doesn’t just look sexy, she kicks ass while doing it. She shows us the kind of woman we want to be, and the kind of woman we want her to be too.

What’s more, she faces real struggle while doing so. She stares down big scary challenges, and fights alongside men as their equal, and doesn’t just rely on her looks and sultry voice (and yes it is very sultry) to make her way. In these new roles, Johansson proves that she does have the acting chops, as well as the karate chops, to own the big screen and carry a major film as an action star.

We haven’t had many women who could do that. There have been a few women who paved the way, but even those are sadly few. We’ve all seen Angelina Jolie and Milla Jovovich; and I’d also count Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton; then Michelle Yeoh did some fairly big stuff in the Asian market; and who could forget the one and only Lucy Lawless. But most of those ladies have since hung up their capes and skin-tight leather pants. So the world has been waiting and watching (for myself, extremely impatiently) for someone new to take to the ring.

Who knew Johansson would be our girl, and that she’d dominate at it?

I mean wow. She had a secret powerhouse of badassery hidden inside her all along. And now that she’s unleashed it, the world has fallen in love with it, particularly us women. Did you know that 50% of Lucy’s opening weekend audience was female, which is an extraordinary rarity for the male-oriented Action genre?

So now we want more!

And we’ll get more. Because rumors are flying high that the Black Widow will finally be getting her own solo movie in the Marvel lineup. About time!

Look out world, coz here comes Scarlett Johansson – ultimate Tough Cookie and the new face of female ferocity. And it looks gooood.

Source: Variety

The Power Of Women Times Six

It’s that time of year again – no not the leaves changing, or first snows, or the anticipation of obligatory family time that comes with the holidays – those things are upon us as well. But what I’m most exciting about at this moment is the celebration of the sixth annual Variety Power of Women issue, which celebrated five incredible women at today’s annual luncheon who have been using their clout to bring attention to worthy causes.

Let’s meet the honorees.Variety Power of Women 2014

First we have Jennifer Lopez, who started the Lopez Family Foundation with her sister Lynda in 2008 after a health scare inspired them to want to help improve healthcare for other women and children.

Next, Reese Witherspoon is being honored for her work running production company Pacific Standard with Bruna Papandrea, and through it driving the production of films with strong, dynamic roles for women – like “Wild” and “Gone Girl.”

Jane Fonda has been a major advocate for preventing adolescent pregnancy, particularly in Georgia where there is the highest rate of it. So in 1994, she founded the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential and has been making waves ever since.

Viola Davis has proven to be a force to reckon with for eradicating childhood hunger, partnering with both Safeway Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation to introduce the Hunger Is initiative this year.

And last but certainly not least, Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley is already an incredible role model, being one of the only women in her level of position in the entertainment industry. But what makes her even more awesome is her work with nonprofit organization Vital Voices and its global mentorship program.

Source: Variety

Emma Watson says HeForShe

Emma Watson appeared before the United Nations Headquarters in New York a week ago to give one of the most impassioned and empowering speech I’ve ever heard. Back in July, she was appointed the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador. And since then, she has been taking her new role very seriously – visiting various nations, such as Zambia and Bangladesh, that struggle with this issue, taking poll of the current situation and imagining ways we can combat that and inspire change.

Her solution? A new UN initiative called HeForShe.

Emma Watson's UN HeForShe speech

In her UN speech, Watson talked about the perception versus the actual definition of feminism, which should be as simple as,

“The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”

Instead, Watson explains how the few brave women, like herself, who do identify as feminists are considered “too strong, too aggressive, isolating, and anti-men, unattractive even.”

How we are as strong women supposed to stand up and speak up if we are immediately judged for the fact that we even stood up in the first place? But then again, the very fact that this is happening is also proof that gender equality is still a very real issue.

But what was particularly unique about Watson’s speech was when, half-way through, she extended a formal invitation to the men in the room to join in this quest. Her point? That being pro-women shouldn’t mean being anti-men, and that men need to be a part of the conversation in order for real change to happen. Or as she put it,

“…the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.”

Watson also points out that men themselves have a right to, and don’t always receive, these basic human rights that are also shockingly lacking for women in the world — which for men means feeling like they can be vulnerable and ask for help without compromising what constitutes them as a man.

Isn’t that the truth?

Gender equality is everyone’s issue – men’s and women’s – so it should really be treated as such. That’s what HeForShe is all about. And I personally will be doing my part to “take up this mantle” as Watson encourages.

If Emma Watson, a 24-year old actress who might seem like an unlikely ambassador, can stand up and speak out despite people wondering “Who is this “Harry Potter” girl? What is she doing at the UN?” – then you and I can too!

It is our duty as human beings. It is our duty as Tough Cookies.

And to quote Watson’s speech one last time, here’s precisely why:

“All I know is that I care about this problem and I want to make it better. And having seen what I’ve seen and given the chance, I feel it is my responsibility to say something. Statesman Edmund Burke said all that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.”

Watch Emma Watson’s full UN speech here, and prepare to be moved:

Then watch the HeForShe campaign video to learn more about how you can get involved:

Source: Huffington Post