Of course men can read this but this is for the ladies
By Maya Contreras (Writer, Actor, Playwright)
(Me, Maya Contreras, at the age of eight at my Grandfather's desk)
I met up with an old friend for drinks this weekend at one of my favorite bars in Greenpoint. This friend is a very successful make-up artist working on shows for Netflix, Hulu, and a few Hollywood films.
As we sat in the backyard of the bar chatting about the industry she told me that she enjoys my writing (thank you very much) and expressed a desire to write herself. “Is that a ridiculous notion?” She asked me. “Of course not” I replied, “We need all the female writers we can get”, I added.
We’ve all seen the statistics: "Women accounted for 15% of writers, 17% of executive producers, 20% of editors, 4% of cinematographers, and 25% of producers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films of 2011."
And “Over the past 17 years, the number of women directing the top 250 grossing films declined by 2%, according to a new study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.”
(Nora Ephron at her desk)
After encouraging my friend to work on a very funny story she told me - she texted me later that night to say, “It was good to see you, you inspire me”. While that was very humbling to hear, I wondered why it was inspiring. I was just telling her and my other girlfriends something they should already know: Their voice is valid.
Then I realized that the reason she might think my speech was inspiring is because many females are brought up to believe that we are in competition with one another. Let me clear something up right now:
We are not.
Let me say those two things again: Your voice is valid and we are not in competition with one another.
(Maya Angelou writing)
Every single one of you as a woman has a unique point of view. Literally. While we all experience joy, love, disappointment, pain, and loss, we all deal with it in our own way. Each of us arrives at our own conclusions of how we cope with situations and how we come out from the other side of a trying ordeal. Those unique perspectives are what we bring to directing, producing, writing, acting, and so on.
(Dorothy Parker at her desk)
We have to do something more for each other as women. We have to encourage each other – daily. We all know how easy it is to criticize and nit-pick each other. But, it is also just as easy to encourage each other. If your friend says “I’m thinking about directing something, but I’ve never done it before” immediately jump up and say to them ‘You should go for it!’ As women we need to do that for one another. When one of us has a hallmark of success we need to handedly congratulate them and to encourage them to keep going. When we fall we must help pick them back up and encourage them to keep going.
(Amy Tan writing)
I know most of us like to feel prepared, to try something only when we feel ready. Sometimes we feel like it’s too late to start a new journey. That we’re not qualified to cut a new path.
Seriously, fuck that. Jump in.
Write/Direct/Produce the screenplay you’ve been wanting to Write/Direct/Produce.
Write the novel you’ve been thinking of for weeks, months or years.
Write the short story and read it out loud to friends.
Grab your iPhone and shoot a short story. Edit it on your iPhone; post it to YouTube or Venmo a sap. Get feedback and shoot another one. See, now you are a director.
Stop hesitating because you think you are too old, too young, too inexperienced.
If you are working with someone or are friends with someone who is dismissive of your ideas, discouraging of your dreams, speaks to you in a negative way about your projects, or puts you down with little jabs - confront them about their behavior, give them a chance to change and talk to you in a respectful manner. If they continue, shed them like old skin. Life is short, surround yourself with people that can give you constructive feedback and encourage you to continue to grow as an artist.
We need your stories. All of your stories. We need stories from all races, creeds, sexual orientation, old, young, physically impaired, etc. Especially middle aged and senior woman, we need your stories as our guideposts.
YOUR VOICE IS VAILD.
YOU ARE NOT IN COMPETITION WITH ONE ANOTHER.
YOU SHOULD GO FOR IT.
Let’s encourage each other.
Maya Contreras is a playwright/writer/actor living in Greenpoint Brooklyn with her husband, fellow writer, Bobby Crace.
This is a preview for my weekly article on CRAZYTOWNBLOG.COM