Orange Is The New Black Star Producing A Film About Women On Wall Street

alysia-reiner

We always knew the ladies of ‘Orange Is The New Black’ were badass, but this just proves it yet again. Actress Alysia Reiner who plays disgraced prison warden Natalie Fig is embarking on a project that just made it hard for us to dislike her on the show come next season. Well ok, we can still dislike her on screen, but in real life we couldn’t love her more.

She is teaming up with fellow actress Sarah Megan Thomas who she met doing a play a few years ago and formed a production company called Broad Street Pictures, for a new film called ‘Equity’ which is focused on women on Wall Street. The lead character Naomi encounters a tonne of sexism and bed behavior in the film toward her, and the main plot twist centers on her being passed over for a promotion.

They have only just started production but the details we know so far are that it will feature a well-known lead female actress, it is NOT financed by a big Hollywood studio meaning it will be an indie film, it will be directed by rising star Meera Menon, and it is going to be a movie about female empowerment.

The story is centered around a female investment banker whose IPO is in jeopardy, and in real life the film is actually being funded by some major Wall Street names: James B. Lee Jr., a vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase, Barbara Byrne, a vice chairman of Barclays, muni bond maestro Alexandra Lebenthal, and Elaine La Roche, a former Morgan Stanley managing director.

Aside from money, the two filmmakers also got plenty of advice about the world of female investment bankers in order to shed light on what they go through, and give the world an update into this cutthroat industry, according to a Bloomberg report.

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So why are these two women making this film?

“We are actresses and producers, but we are also businesswomen. We wanted to see ourselves represented on screen,” said Alysia in a statement.

Some of the women they consulted say the story line is something they are used to hearing all the time.

“I know women just like Naomi, It’s not an easy business,” said Candy Straight, an independent director and former investment banker who agreed to help finance ‘Equity’.

According to research from Catalyst, women only make up less than 2% of CEOs in the world’s largest finance and insurance companies, and only 14% of CEOs at America’s biggest publicly traded companies are women, according to CNN Money.

But there are some significant gains. Janet Yellen is the first female to chair the Federal Reserve in its 100 year history. Christina LaGarde became the first female Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund in 2011. In the Insurance world, 2 out of the “big four” corporations are now chaired by women for the first time. KPMG just named Lynn Doughtie as their new US CEO, and Deloitte appointed Cathy Engelbert as theirs.

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Since 1995, Deutsche Bank have been gathering women in the financial industry from all over the world for their annual Women on Wall Street conference, to discuss ways they can better diversify and push for more inclusive opportunities for women. While this is great, the 14% number just isn’t cutting it.

They are abysmal numbers no matter how you look at it. What this film can do is give both men and women an inside look into what women on Wall Street face every day in order to change the culture and encourage individuals to make a difference in the industry.

“It’s lovely for someone like Sheryl Sandberg to say ‘Lean In,’ but what I found in interviews [with women on Wall Street] is that if they do lean in, then everyone thinks they’re a bitch,” Alysia told CNN Money.

For some involved, it means telling a different type of narrative to what we are used to seeing when it comes to the financial industry.

“I wanted to support this script because it is women telling stories about women. We need to see more of that type of dialogue,” said Barbara Byrne about the film, which will be finished in time to showcase at Sundance 2016.

female-traders

Sarah Megan Thomas’ husband actually works on Wall Street, and despite what the film may sound like, it is not intended to be a Elizabeth Warren-type take-down of bankers.

“We didn’t set out to make a movie that takes down Wall Street,” she said.

If you aren’t familiar, Senator Elizabeth Warren has been the most vocal opponent of the major tax breaks banks and corporations get, while the working class foot the ever-increasing bill. She is even making enemies in her Democrat part in the Senate and in Congress for her bold and brassy outspoken tirades over how wrong it is that the middle class in America are being squeezed out for every dollar, and the rich get richer. While this doesn’t have much to do with Alysia and Sarah’s film, it is important to see a female politician willing to be on the front lines fighting for economic equality in America today.

So although we have seen Wall Street become immortalized by Hollywood with films like 1987’s ‘Wall Street’, and of course 2013’s ‘Wolf of Wall Street’, now it’s time to see a different side in the forthcoming ‘Equity’.

We are seeing an exciting movement in the world happening under the banner of gender equality. There are more and more women pushing for equal representation and respect in spaces normally reserved for the white, cis-gendered male. And in Hollywood it is vital we see these stories brought to a platform that serves millions and millions around the world as it is a vehicle for sending a message often faster, and in a more impactful way than any other method.

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  1. Pingback: Actress Alysia Reiner's Eco-Conscious Fashion Line LIVARI Supports Formerly Incarcerated Women - GirlTalkHQ

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