For the eagle eyed of you watching the Golden Globes earlier this month, you will have seen winner of ‘Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series (Drama)’ - Olivia Colman - sporting an ERA 50:50 ring.
‘What is it?’ you ask. For those who aren’t aware of ERA 50:50 - it is an initiative founded by actresses Polly Kemp and Lizzie Berrington in 2015; and stands for ‘Equal Representation for Actresses’.
The campaign came about following a report from the Geena Davis Institute publication ‘Gender Bias Without Borders’. The report stated that there was ‘2:1 actors to every actress and an average of 17% female representation in crowd scenes in films’.
The aim of ERA 50:50 is to ‘inspire British film, television and theatre to lead the way and implement equal gender balance on screen and stage across their drama and comedy slates by 2020.’ So, this year is huge for them.
They have a host of supporters from within the industry including Dame Emma Thompson DBE, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Imelda Staunton, Claire Foy and Emma Watson. All of whom have worn ERA rings or badges at huge industry and award events.
Not only do they have 200+ high profile females backing this initiative, they also have men fighting the fight too, including James Nesbitt, Jude Law and Mark Bonner. Most recently, Tobias Menzies, who plays Prince Philip in The Crown, was seen sporting the ERA Badge at the Golden Globes alongside Colman.
I am very lucky to know Polly Kemp personally. She is a wonderful actress - have you seen her in the recent BBC adaptation of ‘Dracula’? And she has a great passion for her important campaign. At our recent “Taking The Stage” festival at MK Gallery last September Polly joined a panel to discuss ‘How are women represented and paid in the industry? It was fascinating and she really shone a light on this subject alongside the other inspiring panel members.
This year, The Play’s The Thing will be focussing on productions by female playwrights and ensuring we reach 50:50 with the plays we produce. Indeed one of the reasons for producing the festival and symposium was to focus ourselves on this. In October 2019 we performed the intriguing play ‘Splendour’ by Abi Morgan. We have more thought-provoking plays by great female writers still to come, so keep an eye out for details.
Why not take a look at some of the ‘ERA Warriors’ supporting this incredible campaign?
Having the support of these well-known actors at huge events like the Golden Globes - which are televised worldwide - is a fantastic accolade to the hard work and dedication founders Polly and Lizzie have put into this strong and compelling campaign.
We, as a theatre company, are right behind this campaign and huge advocates of what it stands for. Women are not getting the deserved recognition within the industry and we need to continue breaking down the barriers . Look at the results of the Golden Globes this year for example. Where are the women?
We were able to celebrate the results of our British stars - Olivia Colman, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Taron Egerton and Sir Sam Mendes – which is fantastic; but it would have been even better to be celebrating more female winners outside of the ‘Best Actress/Supporting Actress’ categories.
Well done to Hildur Guðnadóttir though for winning the ‘Best Original Score’ category for the Joker. But where were the females for Best Screenplay or Best Director? Where is Greta Gerwig’s nomination for ‘Little Women’?
The same pattern followed suit with the more recent Oscar and BAFTA nominations. No female nominee for Best Director.
According to the BBC: ‘There have only been five women nominated as best director in the awards' 92-year history with only one winner: Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” in 2010.
I feel it is quite frustrating and disheartening for women in the industry - not only filmmakers, but actresses, producers, directors and writers too. We have all this female talent from all corners of the world, and we are not being recognised. Why?
However, this year’s Oscar nominations have shown some progress with gender parity with female nominations at an all time high at 31% of the total nominations. The categories that women have come top in are Best Picture, Best Documentary Short Subject and Best Costume Design.
We can but hope that these great women triumph at the awards and get the recognition that all females within our industry are worthy of.
With ERA 50:50 gaining momentum and becoming acknowledged all over the world, I believe that Polly, Lizzie and their ERA Warriors are well on their way to successfully completing their mission of equal gender balance within performing arts. But there is still a lot of work to be done.
Follow the link if you are interested in finding out more about the ERA campaign and how you can get involved.