The spotlight is shining on diversity and inclusion in the North American film industry and though we’re not where we should be in gender equality — Natalie Portman admitting two months ago that Ashton Kutcher made three times more than she did in No Strings Attached — there have been steps in the right direction.
Ashton Kutcher backing Natalie’s choice to speak out, putting a focus on men to help close the gap, is one example. Another, is the recent collaboration of an all-female team of Canadian film industry talent to write, cast and direct the new Global TV series, Mary Kills People.
The controversial drama follows the story of Dr. Mary Harris (played by Montreal-native, Caroline Dhavernas), a single mother and ER doctor living a double life helping terminally ill patients with assisted deaths. She works outside of the boundaries of the law, so that her patients can go out on their own terms.
It’s not the first time a team of women came together to create incredible TV, but it was important for the executives at Corus Entertainment and Global to put not just the right people, but the right women, in the roles to make this show truly come to life.
[WATCH] The Ladies in the Lead Featurette
Right from the get-go, we felt this was a strong female-lead drama that deserved a strong female team.
Lisa Godfrey, VP of Original Content at Corus Entertainment says:
“When we first read the Mary Kills People script we were blown away – it was nothing we had seen before and we immediately greenlit the series. We saw this as an ‘event series’ – an original show – something that Global had never done before. The marketplace is very crowded, so we did something very different and unexpected by bringing what felt like a premium cable drama to Global.
What we loved was the unique voice and vision that the Creator, Tara Armstrong brought to the project. Right from the get-go, we felt this was a strong female-lead drama that deserved a strong female team. Together with eOne, we committed to pairing Tara with the best in the business, so we knew Tassie Cameron was the perfect partner & mentor for the project and Holly Dale, the perfect Director. From the top down, in front of the camera and behind it, we also added a strong female writing room and creative expertise in many other key creative and business roles.
As a company, Corus has been leading the charge on ensuring our productions are well represented with strong diversity and we will continue to commit to foster production teams that embrace this approach.”
Women make up less than 20% of all directors in Canadian film.
According to a 40-page report prepared for the Canadian Unions for Equality on Screen by Dr. Amanda Coles, a Canadian scholar in cultural management, women make up less than 20% of all directors in Canadian film. This stat is echoed by a 2015 study titled Women in View on Screen by Rina Fraticelli.
According to Fraticelli, in front of the camera, women are also severely under-represented, with only 36% of leading roles occupied by women when a man is in the director’s chair. When a woman takes the chair that number jumps to 55%.
The good news is the stats are climbing as female talent in Canadian film and TV are stepping into the spotlight.
The six-episode series wrapped up February 22nd with all episodes available online at Global TV and there’s talk of a Season 2 in the works.