It’s no secret that being a female screenwriter in Hollywood is tough. But did you know that their ranks might actually be declining? Especially in film. In 2009, female screenwriters accounted for 17 percent of all feature film work, in 2012 that number dropped to 15 percent. That’s not to mention the 77 cents they made to every male screenwriter dollar, down from 82 cents to the dollar in 2009. Disheartening, to say the very least. On the upside (I hate that I have to call a still-existing wage gap an upside, but I do), female TV writers earned 92 cents to every dollar earned by white male TV writers in 2012. Thank you Shonda Rhimes and Orange Is The New Black (whom I did not include because you probably already know them).
So last night at the 2015 Writers’ Guild Awards, I guess it’s not all that surprising that just 2 out of the 12 Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay nominees were women: Gillian Flynn for Gone Girl and Nicole Perlman, who co-wrote Guardians of the Galaxy, though neither won. On the night, 20 out of 64 winners were women. I’m here to celebrate some of those talented ladies, and encourage everyone to support female screenwriters by watching their movies and TV shows, and keeping the conversation alive.
1. Nicole Perlman, Guardians of the Galaxy
Nicole Perlman’s nomination for Guardians of the Galaxy with co-writer James Gunn is just the latest in a career that has been building momentum since she received her Film and Dramatic Writing degree from NYU’s Tisch in 2003. She won the Tribeca Film Festival’s Sloan Grant for Science in Film for her screenplay Challenger was named one of Variety‘s “Top Ten Writers To Watch” in 2006, and was the script doctor for Thor in 2011. Keep an eye out for her next film project, Black Widow.
2-8. The Mad Men Writing Team
I never realized what a female-dominated writing crew Mad Men had, and it almost makes me want to start watching. Lisa Albert, Heather Jeng Bladt, Semi Chellas, Janet Leahy, Erin Levy, Patricia Resnick, Carly Wray, Tom Smuts, Jonathan Igla, David Iserson, and Matthew Weiner were all nominated for Best Drama Series last night (though they lost to True Detective).
A quick rundown: Lisa Albert is a long-time TV producer and writer with 3 Emmys. Heather Jeng Bladt started on the show as Matthew Weiner’s assistant and wrote her first episode, “Field Trip,” this past year (congrats!). Semi Chellas was the co-creator, executive producer, and head writer for the Canadian drama series The Eleventh Hour, and was nominated for an Emmy for both of the season 5 Mad Men episodes that she co-wrote. Janet Leahy has a long list of writing credits including Cheers, The Cosby Show, Roseanne, Gilmore Girls, and Boston Legal. Erin Levy is the show’s Supervising Producer, and also only one of three writers who has won an Emmy for Mad Men. Patricia Resnick was one of the newer additions to the writing staff, and is a film veteran known for writing 9 to 5, Quintet, and A Wedding. Finally, Carly Wray moved up the Mad Men ranks from assistant to staff writer to having her own writing credits. Quite the crew.
9. Pamela Adlon, Louie
Pamela Adlon took home the W for Comedy Series last night, along with Louis C.K., for Louie. She has—wait for it—158 acting credits, most of which are for voice-over performances. She won an Emmy for her voice performance as Bobby Hill in King of the Hill, and is a pretty damn good writer as well. She has created and written a TV movie called Better Things, which she is also starring in and Louis C.K. is directing. Keep an eye out for it this year!
10. Nora Smith, Bob’s BurgersOh, Nora Smith. You brilliant, beautiful genius. Nora was nominated last night—but did not win, DAMMIT SIMPSONS—for writing the hilarious season 5 premiere of Bob’s Burgers, “Work Hard or Die Trying, Girl.” In the episode, Gene writes a musical version of Die Hard, which is eventually combined with a rival production of Working Girl for the school musical. Nora shares a well-deserved Emmy for Bob’s Burgers’ 2014 Outstanding Animated Program win. Also…I love her brain.
11. Michelle King, The Good Wife Michelle King is a Writers Guild of America Award winner as of last night for an episode of The Good Wife, written alongside her husband Robert King. They took down 2 episodes of Boardwalk Empire, an episode of Mad Men, and an episode of Game of Thrones in the Episodic Drama category, no mean feat. Michelle is a co-creator, Executive Producer, and writer on the show, and has picked up 3 Emmy nods along the way. 12. Jill Soloway, Transparent Jill Soloway was nominated along with the rest of Transparent‘s writing staff for Comedy Series and New Series. The thing about Jill is that she created the show’s pilot based on her own experience with her father coming out as transgender. She is an Executive Producer and writer on the show. She has also been a producer on Six Feet Under, Grey’s Anatomy, United States of Tara, and How To Make It In America. P.S. I had to include the full body shot from last night because look at those pants! 13. Jane Anderson, Olive Kitteridge Jane Anderson is the sole writer on this season’s most acclaimed miniseries, Olive Kitteridge, so of course she took home the Writers Guild Award for it last night! She won an Emmy in 1993 for Outstanding Writing in the miniseries, The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom, which we obviously all must watch now. She is a veteran film and TV writer, and most recently has written the screenplay for one of my favorite novelist’s Meg Wolitzer’s The Wife, coming out in 2016. 14. Georgia Pritchett, Veep I was very surprised and a little disappointed to learn that there is just one woman among the 11 writers nominated for Veep, so Georgia gets her own shout out for writing on one of the funniest shows on television. I’ll have to revisit her eps, “Crate” and “Fishing.”