The Geekie Awards Female-Dominated Prod. Team Weigh In On Gender In Hollywood

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On Sunday August 17th, Hollywood played host to the 2nd annual Geekie Awards, which is the brain-child of producer, host and self-confessed Geek Girl Kristen Nedopak. She created the show because she felt there wasn’t a single awards ceremony to celebrate all the things that the geek world encompasses: gaming, art, fashion, comics and entertainment.

This year the show was even bigger, even geeky-er, and a lot of it was thanks to the amazing production team who made it all happen. Film and TV legend Gale Anne Hurd will be this year’s recipient of the Stan Lee Lifetime Achievement award.

In case you have no idea who Gale is, perhaps you are familiar with her work. She produced and co-wrote ‘The Terminator’, ‘Aliens’, and has also worked on ‘Armageddon’, ‘The Incredible Hulk’, ‘Dante’s Peak, ‘Aeon Flux’, ‘The Ghost and the Darkness’ and more. But it’s probably her most recent TV credit that you might recognize her name from. She is the executive producer of ‘The Walking Dead’ which is currently the most-watched scripted drama, beating all broadcast and cable series among adults 18-49. Aside from all the award-winning material she has worked on onscreen, Gale has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and this October she will be inducted into the International Women’s Forum Hall of Fame, which features such honorees as Rosa Parks, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Audrey Hepburn.

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Not bad for a geek girl!

“I have always considered myself a geek, so being the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement award named after the ‘King of the Geeks’, Stan Lee, is really a dream come true,” said Gale in a press release.

“It’s very important to us that our industry award recipients be out there, trying to make an impact and change the world. Especially when those efforts inspire support for the arts and a new wave of creative thinkers. Gale has been one of my longtime idols for her work on so many incredible films, and for being an inspiration for female executives in the industry,” said showrunner and creator Kristen Nedopak about the award being presented to Gale.

But it’s not just the stage which will feature an impressive female. We were contacted by one of the producers of The Geekie Awards and asked if we wanted to write a feature about the awards. When she told that 12 out of the 18-member production staff were female, we jumped all over this! This is a rarity in Hollywood! So we asked all the female members a few questions to get an inside scoop of what it’s like to work on a show which unintentionally formed a female-dominated crew.

If you’ve ever wanted in inside look at what females who work tirelessly behind-the-scenes in Hollywood think of the gender issue, we’ve made it easy for you. Get to know The Geekie Awards production staff below:

Kristen Nedopak – Executive Director/Creator/Showrunner

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1. You are the showrunner for the Geekie Awards, tell us what it is like to be a woman taking on a role which is typically male-dominated in the industry?

I love it. I’ve not had much of a struggle with male vs. female in the work that I do, to be honest. Perhaps it’s because I’m an Aries and we are typically just as aggressive as men, and aggression, personal strength, stamina and hard work are requirements for a job such as this. Much of the time it’s major stress to constantly have your butt on the line, and so many people are looking up to you to make it all work. But then you get to see your vision come to life. I’ve always wanted to be a Showrunner for that reason. I feel the respect I get from my colleagues comes from the ability to handle that type of responsibility and the quality of work I put out there, and has nothing to do with gender.

I think, like any job, it’s also about surrounding yourself with people who support you. Sure, there are boys clubs everywhere, but I have met some fabulous showrunner men who are fans of powerful women. For those who aren’t, well, I also have a habit of recognizing destructive, ego-driven energy, and keeping it out of my life.

2. You are a regular speaker on panels at events such as Comic Con, what kind of topics do you cover?

The majority of panels I do are about creating your own work and branding. An advisor of mine once told me, you have to have a balance between doing the work and inspiring others to follow suit. So, I try to balance my time between this beast of a show and helping others get further along their path by sharing my lessons learned on how to do it right.

I’m all about the “how to” and encouraging people to discover their true paths. In fact, I’m working on a series of eBooks that provide tips on business and working your magic in this industry as a creator. I love seeing people follow their dreams and discovering their potential. The first time someone comes up to you and says, “you’re changed my life,” there’s no greater feeling in the world.

3. What does it mean to you to give greater visibility to “geek girls” in the sci-fi/fantasy/action world?

“Geek girl” is an interesting term to me because, at the end of the day, we are all women. I’m a huge advocate for women being themselves—whether that means you wear sneakers and jeans one minute and you want to be glam in a hot pair of heels the next. My mission is to help show the community women are women first, geeks second. I encourage women to BE women, and not feel that will hinder them in this world of spaceships and swords. You can be all of it, ladies. Everything. It just takes a bit of inner strength and confidence in the person you are, and the ability to ignore the judgmental buffoons out there. Hey, let’s just call ourselves “geeks!”

4. What message do you have to girls who want to stake their claim in the geek world but are intimidated and don’t know where to start?

The geek world is easy. Just be you. Now the entertainment industry… that is scary. However, I think it’s only intimidating when you come into it with the expectation that you’ll float along and things will be easy. This is the hardest my producers and I have ever worked in our lives! With hard work, determination and a little bit of focus on what you really want to do (and hey, that can change 10 times in one year), things absolutely will happen.
We forgot it’s the intentions we put out there—the things we obsess over and are the most passionate about—that create the world around us. So, where would I tell someone to start? Start with what you want and think about it 24/7. Then pay attention and be open to the opportunities that come your way. The path will always open before you if you want something bad enough. You just can’t be too busy worrying to see it.

Shahnti Olcese Brook – Show Producer

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1. As The Geekie Awards Show Producer, what does your role entail?

My role really entails being aware of  every detail. You have to be involved in every aspect of what is going on from crew to sponsors, budget to celebrity talent, show videos to stage decor, cast, nominees, craft services, props, releases, you name it. But you also have to really be able to also see the whole picture five minutes before it airs in your mind. My role is to properly juggle a lot of plates all the time and if one should fall catch it before it hits the floor, so to speak.

2. The Geekie Awards team has a very strong female presence, which doesn’t happen a lot in Hollywood, why is this significant to you?

Because we are a strong, smart, supportive team. In Hollywood and anywhere in the world, I feel it is important to show people that strong female teams exist. We are an amazing example of that I am proud to say. We are incredibly supportive of each other and that is a significant factor that makes the awards a success.

3. You are an Emmy Award-winning producer, were instrumental in the launch of Reelz channel and TV Guide Channel, as well as other great achievements throughout your career, but have you ever faced discrimination or adversity for being a woman in the industry? 

Well, I think we all know there is adversity out there in every industry. I’d be lying if I said I never felt like there were times when I was looked over based on “gender”. In this industry the final product is comprised of the work of so many that it really has to be a team effort to generate a quality show. That’s why I do think it is very important for people in general to be supportive of each other regardless of gender, race or age.

4. For girls out there who dream of a job like yours, but are intimidated and don’t know where to start, how would you encourage them?

For other girls out there, I would say: I was a very shy young girl in school. If you want to do something, just go for it and believe in yourself. My advice is to surround yourself with great people who are always supportive that you can constantly be learning from.  Believe in yourself and dare to dream!

Ashley Esqueda – Head Writer

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1. Being the head writer for the Geekie Awards, who are you in charge of and what does your job entail?

Desiree and I have the same general responsibilities as co-head writers for the show: we write (or oversee the writing of) everything you’ll see in the live show, from the presenter dialogue to the bumpers you see when we come back from commercial.

As for who I’m in charge of, we both keep an eye on Krista and Taylor (lovingly dubbed “the Squirrels” shortly after we started writing the show). Overall, we’re a pretty democratic group in terms of creative contributions!

2. You have a pretty impressive resume as a “geek girl” and pop culture aficionado, what has been your favorite job so far? 

Well, I love all my projects, of course, but I have to say, there’s nothing better than creating your own thing, so I’d have to say hosting Tomorrow Daily on CNET is unequivocally awesome. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted to do with a tech talk show, and I’m incredibly grateful CNET is willing to support my wacky ideas.

3. For those not in the know, can you give us some info about female audiences in the sci-fi/action/fantasy world and why more creators and manufacturers should market to women? 

I can speak on my experience attending events like Comic-Con, E3, and similar over the years. Every year, more women are loud and proud about some aspect of geek culture. Whether it’s loving Doctor Who, obsessing over Game of Thrones, or even just enjoying a casual game or two on their iPad, we definitely represent a significant part of the market.

Some creators and manufacturers out there are already trying to be more inclusive of women in their content, but there’s still sexism and (to an even larger extent in my opinion) fear out there to cater to women. I think production companies and studios and executives feel like you can catch women with a movie marketed to men, but it’s much, much harder to catch men when you market mainly to women.

Personally, I don’t believe that for a second if the content is good (seriously, what dude hasn’t enjoyed Bridesmaids?), but when you have the kind of overly treacly, ham-fisted sap out there, nobody expects men to jump on board for it. And really, who can blame them for that? Not even I want to see A Winter’s Tale.

4. Hollywood is tough enough, but adding gender to the mix can sometimes mean a double negative. Have you ever come across negative reactions to you being a girl?

I like to remind myself that everyone in the public eye has critics. Some are more vocal and cruel than others, but it’s okay if not everybody likes you. The very wise RuPaul once said, “If they ain’t payin’ your bills, pay them bitches no mind,” and I’m a big believer in that. What other people think of you is none of your business, and in my opinion, the most important critic of what you do is YOU. Don’t be afraid to know when you’re not as good at something as you thought, because then you can get better at it.

5. What advice do you have to other geek girls out there who have the talent but don’t know where to start in the biz?

Network, network, network. Be yourself. Be honest. Find your own way, because trying to copy someone else’s path rarely works (and it won’t allow your own talents to shine). Look for opportunities that don’t exist yet, and pitch them. And most importantly, if you think you can be happy doing anything else, go do that thing, because this industry is a madhouse.

(And if you leave because of that last bit, you weren’t cut out for this crazy business in the first place.)

Desiree Echevarria – Head Writer

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1. You are also the head writer for the Geekie Awards with Ashley Esquesda, is it cool getting to work with so many other women on an awards show production team?

It’s the coolest thing in the world! Kristen Nedopak brought Ashley and me on board for the first show and we were the ONLY writers on staff. So, we were basically the head writers by default. Then when it came time to begin writing the show this year, we thought it would be a good idea to expand the writers’ room. I had actually found Krista Doyle on Twitter a couple of years ago through our mutual friend Miles, and was always a big fan of her comedy writing there.

I really do believe Twitter is a burgeoning medium for comedy writers who might not have a platform otherwise, particularly female comedy writers. So I was beyond thrilled to bring Krista on board. Then I met Taylor Harrison through Krista and, thankfully, she was interested in writing for the show too. When we finally started workshopping scripts between the four of us, it became clear to me that we had somehow assembled a super-team of hilarious, talented, genuinely awesome female writers who are so supportive of one another and who are seriously on their way to becoming a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood.

I didn’t even give it a second thought that I was only hiring girls, because my primary focus was making sure we got the best PEOPLE for the job – and they just happened to be girls. My experience with this team has been so amazing that it’s now my goal is to staff all future writers’ rooms I run with nothing but funny girls until someone shows up to physically stop me.

2. In your own words, explain why being a girl in the geek world is awesome.

In the past, geek culture may have had a less-than-welcoming track record when it came to its female participants. But what makes being a girl in the geek world today an awesome thing is that the tide is turning and things are changing. There is an actual community of girls in every facet of geekdom that are all really welcoming of one another because we know the struggle all too well — that struggle being behavior like having our geekiness “challenged” so to speak, or even, for example, being straight-up harassed in the world of online gaming.

But that’s changing and it’s definitely better than it’s ever been. Also, the market is taking notice and geeky girls are being catered to for the first time ever, and that’s really cool. I can walk into any store in the mall now and find “Star Wars” shirts in the women’s clothing section for the first time in my life. The other day, I walked into a store and bought R2-D2 earrings! It was awesome! Never would have expected to see that when I was growing up. So, geek culture is much more welcoming and inclusive now, at least in my experience.

3. If you had a captive audience with every network and studio exec in Hollywood, what would you say to them about increasing the visibility of women in the industry?

It’s no secret that Hollywood has to do better in this area. For example, consider the fact that this show’s writing staff being comprised entirely of women is newsworthy. I really hope that one day soon, stuff like this won’t be newsworthy. I don’t want this to be unusual. If the staff of a television show were exclusively male, no one would bat an eye. It would just be seen as business as usual.

If this were a perfect world, show business would be a meritocracy and no one would make any assumptions about your ability to write, direct, produce, or create just based on your gender. I have been fortunate enough to have been given a lot of great opportunities in my career, and I hope to have many more, but I never want to find myself in a position where someone assumes that because I’m a girl, I can only write “girl” material.

There is no such thing as “girl” material. If a girl wants to write about comic book characters, then that makes comic book characters “girl” material too. Hollywood doesn’t see that yet, but I have a lot of confidence that one day soon, it will. I’ll point to the success of “The Guardians of the Galaxy” and its writer Nicole Perlman as evidence that the tide is beginning to turn!

Taylor Harrison – Writer

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1. You started writing as an escape from bullies, do you have any “modern day bullies” that keep you motivated in the same way?

As a kid, I got teased a lot and called names like bitch in elementary school. This obviously affected my self esteem, but I eventually learned everybody is struggling with some type of insecurity. I still struggle with insecurities and doubts. I am probably my biggest enemy. I have written about dealing with depression and anxiety. It is a continual battle to choose to be okay with yourself and where you are at in life. I stay motivated by thinking about all of the people that made me feel like I mattered instead of the ones that made me feel insignificant. Sharing your story may change someone else’s story.

2. You have written for a lot of female-driven websites, what do you like to write about the most?

I love writing about television and film because they have meant so much to me my entire life. I know aspects of pop culture are shallow and seemingly unnecessary, but I think when something truly touches you, you should be proud of it. My favorite movies and TV shows have brought me comfort on some of my darkest days. As far as writing for a lot of female-driven websites, those opportunities have all come about from forming friendships with other women. I love females banding together instead of competing.

3. As one of the Geekie Awards team members, how does it feel being part of a female-dominated crew?

This might sound strange, but I often forget about it being female-dominated. I will be in a writing meeting or reading a draft of something and think, “these people are hilarious.” However, I realize what a huge deal this is when I remember how many award shows and tv shows teams are primarily comprised of males. I think anytime a female is chosen to write or produce or direct something it is a win for all women. The thing with writers’ rooms is that it is best when you have different perspectives, different voices. This is when you get the best material I believe. So what better way to accomplish that than having more women on teams?

4. If you had one message for young girls about becoming a writer, what would it be?

Write. Write. Write. The only way I have had something published or been invited to write for the Geekie Awards was by putting myself out there. One should also plan on not getting paid for any of it. At least not in the beginning anyways. The beauty with writing though is getting to share it with any size audience can be exciting. If it is your lot in life, you’ll surely have moments of procrastination, but you won’t be able to quiet the urge to write. Each piece you finish will make you better.

Krista Doyle – Writer

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1. As a writer on the Geekie Awards you are working with a group of super talented people, the majority of them being women which is unusual in Hollywood. How does this factor make the job better or worse for you, compared to other shows you have worked on?

Well, while I’ve worked for other shows in a few different capacities, this is actually my first job as a staff writer. But for this to be my first staff writing job has been a dream. Seeing Kristen create this show and choose to put together a mostly-female team when its demographic is largely male has been so encouraging and has given me a little more confidence as a woman in this industry.

2. Do you think there is truth to the term “boys club” in television and film?

Oh, absolutely. You can go look at the credits of pretty much any movie or TV show and the lack of female presence is obvious. I think that door is being opened, though. Women like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Lena Dunham, they’re kind of just saying “Fuck this” and barging right on in.

3. If you could write yourself into a film or TV show, what would your role be and what would the show entail?

I’d probably make myself a female superhero, or like a female Scott Pilgrim. I’d love to write a movie where I kick ass and get the girl. Girls need adventure, too!

4. What advice do you have for other female writers out there who would love to have your resume, but don’t know where to start?

Honestly, the internet has been an amazing platform for me, as it is for most these days. A lot of the jobs I’ve gotten recently have been because of articles I’ve written online. There are so many different websites out there that take submissions from unknown authors and it can be an amazing way to cultivate your voice as a writer while also building up your audience and portfolio.

Amy Prenner – Publicist

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1. As the publicist for the Geekie Awards, aside from all the obvious geek culture content, is there much awareness of the production team being mostly female?

There is never enough awareness! I think that it’s a common misconception that most geeks are men and its simply not true. The real geeks are women.

2. How do the men on the team feel being in a room with so many awesome women?

I think men thrive on powerful outgoing women. They also like the friendly competition.

3. Do you think there is an important message to be said for a show that has a strong female presence behind the scenes?

We are all working together for the greater good and since we are women and we are all strong in different areas, we won’t stop till we do it right.We are also supportive in the right areas and there is less competition and more camaraderie.

4. You are a real like #Girlboss, with your own company The Prenner Group. What advice do you have to all aspiring girlbosses out there?

Write everything down. Don’t ever leave without a pen and a notepad in your purse. Ideas will spark and sometimes you will be in a place where you want to remember something from something that took place and having these basic things are a life saver. I also would tell you to always send a thank you note after you meet someone new. It’s refreshing to the person on the receiving end and it keeps your dialogue open and fluid.

 

 

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  1. Pingback: The Walking Dead EP Gale Anne Hurd Says Hollywood's Lack Of Women Is Due To Fear

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