There’s been a noticeable shift in Hollywood in recent years. It’s a sentiment shared by many of this year’s Women in Hollywood honorees, and something we’ve witnessed with our own eyes. More doors are opening to women, justas more women are feeling emboldened to enter those doors without an invite. Countless artists and executives at every level are taking advantage of these new opportunities and making vibrant, lasting work.
The 12 women highlighted here—from a writer-actor extraordinaire to a powerhouse producer to a tireless director whose much-awaited biographical film about a slave-turned-abolitionist will finally debut this month—exemplify creativity and fearlessness. We applaud their efforts to pursue critically important and diverse projects that inspire us all. And we’re thankful to them for keeping the doors propped open for the next generation of creators.
THE WRITER: PHOEBE WALLER-BRIDGE
The creator and star of Fleabag has become a singular voice in Hollywood. While appearing in the Emmy-nominated show, Waller-Bridge also found time to develop the award-winning BBC America series Killing Eve. Earlier this year, she was brought in to punch up the screenplay for No Time to Die, the twenty-fifth James Bond film, bringing a much-needed female perspective to the spy franchise. Fans of her spirited, original storytelling will also be pleased to learn that she’s currently penning (and plans to direct) a feature film.
THE RENAISSANCE WOMAN: ISSA RAE
Rae is Hollywood’s everywoman: creator, writer, actress, producer. She delivered an unforgettable comedic turn in Little earlier this year, and the fourth season of her Emmy-nominated HBO series Insecure is currently in the works. Rae has two films on the horizon for 2020 as well: Stella Meghie’s The Photograph and Michael Showalter’s next rom-com, The Lovebirds. She’s all about paying it forward, too, having launched a contest to find the next best teen movie script with director Paul Feig this past July.
THE BOSS: DANA WALDEN
Walden, former chairman and CEO of Fox Television Group, weathered the Disney/Fox merger and was ultimately named chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment in March. In her new role, Walden has taken on twice the work, adding three studios, a cable channel, the ABC Television Network, and ABC Owned Television Stations Group to her portfolio while simultaneously overseeing the Hulu Scripted Originals Team. The exec has been responsible for launching hit shows like Empire, and helped guide the success of Grey’s Anatomy and This Is Us.
THE PRODUCTION DESIGNER:
This year Beachler became the first African American to win an Oscar for Best Production Design for her work on Black Panther. A longtime collaborator of director Ryan Coogler, Beachler has showcased her creativity in a wide variety of projects, ranging from Creed to Moonlight to Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Her next venture, Todd Haynes’s legal thriller Dark Waters, will be released November 22. She’s also teamed up with director Melina Matsoukas to design the pilot for FX’s postapocalyptic series Y: The Last Man, slated for 2020, and signed on for the sequel to Black Panther, set for May 6, 2022.
THE CREATOR: OLIVIA WILDE
With Booksmart (her feature film directorial debut), Wilde established herself as an exciting filmmaker with an irreverent, original vision. The female buddy comedy earned an impressive 97 percent rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer. Next up, Wilde will coproduce, direct, and star in Don’t Worry, Darling, a psychological thriller about a 1950s homemaker that sold to New Line in a bidding war with 18 studios. Within weeks of that deal, Wilde sold a holiday comedy pitch to Universal Pictures, to be written and coproduced by Booksmart’s Katie Silberman. She’ll also star in Clint Eastwood’s The Ballad of Richard Jewell, out in 2020.
THE PRODUCER: KATHLEEN KENNEDY
As president of Lucasfilm, Kennedy has been instrumental in revitalizing the Star Wars franchise, with 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens setting a record for the biggest domestic opening of all time. She’s producing the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (in theaters in December) and is an executive producer for The Mandalorian, a space western series for Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+. The first woman to win the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, she also helped spearhead Anita Hill’s Hollywood Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace.
THE DIRECTOR: GRETA GERWIG
Hollywood loves a good remake, and Gerwig’s exuberantly feminist take on Little Women is bound to be a hit. The follow-up to Lady Bird, her Oscar-nominated directorial debut, reunites Gerwig with that film’s star, Saoirse Ronan, who plays the charmingly willful Jo in this time-tested and much-adored story. Gerwig, a longtime actress and writer in quirky indie films like Frances Ha and Mistress America, has also been tapped to cowrite the forthcoming Barbie film, another remake of sorts, for Warner Bros. with her partner and longtime collaborator, Noah Baumbach.
THE EXECUTIVE: LISA NISHIMURA
Nishimura, the former vice president of original documentary and comedy programming at Netflix, where she helped bring about series like Chef’s Table, was promoted to vice president of independent film and documentary features earlier this year. Her new duties entail overseeing the two categories, as well as documentary shorts and limited documentary series, including the streaming service’s blockbuster nature docuseries, Our Planet.
THE COSTUME DESIGNER: RUTH E. CARTER
THE TRIPLE THREAT: AMY SHERMAN-PALLADINO
Gilmore Girls and Bunheads creator and scribe Sherman-Palladino has a long history of pushing forward valuable stories of female characters unafraid to speak their minds. Last year, she became the first woman to win an Emmy for writing, directing, and producing in the same year for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The second season, which aired on Amazon Prime Video last year, earned a staggering 20 Emmy nominations, and Sherman-Palladino is prepping for the premiere of the third season this winter.
THE ARTIST: KASI LEMMONS
Actress-turned-director Lemmons, who made her feature directorial debut in 1997 withEve’s Bayou, has worked tirelessly to bring African American stories to the screen, including her latest opus, Harriet. The resonant film, cowritten and directed by Lemmons, shines a light on the life of slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman, a towering figure in American history. Lemmons also directed the first two episodes of Netflix’s limited series Madam C.J. Walker, starring Octavia Spencer, which recounts the true story of the black hair care pioneer and mogul.
THE HISTORY MAKER: JANET MOCK
Mock, who got her start as an author and magazine writer, became the first trans woman of color to write and direct a TV series with her work on Ryan Murphy’s FX show Pose. In June, Mock signed a historic multimillion-dollar three-year deal with Netflix, giving the streaming service exclusive rights to her TV series and a first-look option on any film projects. She reunited with Murphy to direct an episode of The Politician and will also executive produce and direct his upcoming Netflix series Hollywood, which stars Patti LuPone. Right now, Mock is writing a feature adaptation of her 2014 memoir, Redefining Realness.