We’re not even a quarter of the way through 2018 and already it’s been a momentous year for women in TV and film.
On 1st January, the Time’s Up movement was launched – an initiative designed to fight sexual harassment, assault and inequality in the workplace. The campaign has dominated awards season, all the way from the red carpet to the winners’ speeches on stage.
A wave of actresses speaking out against the gender pay gap has led to their male co-stars donating to the movement, and Greta Gerwig became the first woman to be nominated for Best Director at both the Baftas and the Oscars in years.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we spoke to nine inspiring women – both on-screen and behind the scenes – and asked them to share what they’ve learnt.
Our contributors are: Sharon Horgan, Georgina Campbell, Aisling Bea, Jennifer Kirby, Nicola Shindler, Pippa Harris, Annabel Scholey, Jane Ripley and Gaby Roslin. Scroll to the bottom of this article to read more about their work.
And soak up their wit and wisdom below…
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
“Write everything down – you think you’ll remember it but you won’t (*my mum).”– casting director Jane Ripley
“Oh, jeepers. I guess the best advice I was ever given was the worst piece of advice, that I decided not to take. Which was that I wasn’t really a writer and I should concentrate on being a producer. I remember that being quite a painful thing to hear but then deciding to ignore it.”– writer and actor Sharon Horgan
“Surround yourself with a supportive tribe. In the comedy world, I have a fantastic group of pals that I go to when I am worried or stressed about something and I would hope they come to me – this week alone, Roisin Conaty and Sarah Pascoe have counselled me through some internet trolling which got me a little low.”– actress, comedian and writer Aisling Bea
“I met Alan Rickman when I was 16, purely by chance. I mustered up all my courage, went up to him and told him I wanted to be an actor. He basically told me to ‘stop talking about acting and just DO it’ – so I did. I wish I could have met him again and told him what an affect he’d had on my life.”– actress Jennifer Kirby
Is there one thing you would do differently in your career if you could go back in time?
“I would have been more selective of the people I worked with and made sure they were able to take care of me and the projects I was working on. I am half made of stone and the other half is an emotional marshmallow head, which can be quite impressionable.”– Aisling Bea
“I would spend less time worrying and comparing myself to other people.”– actress Annabel Scholey
“I would stop worrying so much and take more risks. I think a lot of actors (especially female ones) have that regret. We’re told that the best thing you can be as an actress is ‘easy to work with’. While this is of course a good quality, if I had my time again I’d stop worrying that I’m out of my depth and dive right in, easy to work with or no.”– Jennifer Kirby
If you could send a message to your younger self, what would it be?
“Sleep more while you can!”– producer and executive Nicola Shindler
“Relax a little so you can fully experience the experience.”– Jane Ripley
“Just don’t stress it, you know? Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. I think I spent so many years not doing the thing I wanted to do because I was afraid that I didn’t have the skills or the talent, or that I didn’t deserve it. And I think a lot of women do that – they sort of hold themselves back by deciding that they have to have everything figured out before they move forward.”– Sharon Horgan
“Stop being so hard on yourself. Stop caring what everyone thinks of you. Stop trying to be something you’re not. (I still say these things to myself a lot).” – actress Georgina Campbell
“Don’t wear salmon and invest in bitcoin.”– Aisling Bea
“RELAX. Its all going to be ok and already is. Trust yourself and then let it go.”– Annabel Scholey
“Be good to yourself and stop every so often amidst the whirlwind to admire how lucky you are.” – Jennifer Kirby
“Stop being so self-conscious and shy. Although at times I still am.”– presenter Gaby Roslin
What is your most embarrassing work story or your funniest career anecdote?
“I had an audition for Doctor Who YEARS AGO, like one of my first ever auditions when I was still a teenager and I cried through the whole thing. No joke. My agent called me after and said, ‘Look, they thought you were great,’ so I was very lucky I had people straight up lying to me at the beginning to build my confidence rather than giving up at the first hurdle!” – Georgina Campbell
“I once got a surprise period whilst on a panel show and didn’t realise until I had sat back down after getting up to do a bit of physical clownery. This is why they shouldn’t let women on panel shows, we just bleed all over the expensive plastic chairs.” – Aisling Bea
“Auditioning an actor and being so involved in the scene I was reading with them that I started to cry and then the actor cried and we were both left sobbing!”– Jane Ripley
“I’ve been lucky enough to work a fair bit with the Royal Shakespeare Company. On my first ever preview I did a rather impressive fall on stage and whacked my head. I was left with a bruise in the pattern of the floorboards on my cheek for weeks. And on my last performance there I cavorted a little too extravagantly in a tavern scene and broke my foot. I literally topped and tailed my time at the RSC with injuries.” – Jennifer Kirby
“There was a morning (during a live radio show) when we were talking about Never Mind The Buzzcocks, the TV show, and I said Never Mind The B***ocks (Sex pistols album) instead. I was mortified.”– Gaby Roslin
What would you change about the industry if you could?
“The film and TV industries both on and off screen should represent contemporary Britain and at the moment they just don’t. We need more women and BAME writers, directors and heads of department. We also need proper on screen diversity with 50:50 portrayal of male and female characters. This isn’t about being politically correct, it’s about fairness and making sure film and TV remain enjoyable and relevant to the whole population and not just one segment.” – producer Pippa Harris
“Make it a lot less white and male… It shouldn’t matter how it’s done, it just needs to change. People need to see themselves reflected back at them. I mean, that’s our culture. That’s the kind of country we live in. It’s a mixed bag, and all the better for it.” – Sharon Horgan
“I would love to see some kind of mission statement for code of conduct in the entertainment workplace come about. Like you don’t just have to be talent, you also cannot behave like a c***. I think that with talent and power – in all jobs, but particularly in music, sport, art and entertainment – people get so dazzled by someone being famous or good at singing or acting or comedy that we can all get away with anything… There is nothing in place to say – be really funny and have great jokes on Twitter, but don’t shout at young assistants or be mean to people off stage or show your penis to young comedians in the green room.”– Aisling Bea
“I would make it easier for fresh talent to break through. The industry tends to stick to what they have tried and tested and sometimes I think a leap of faith is needed.”– Annabel Scholey
“Oh, so much! We’d all communicate better about what we want and what might get on screen. We would be more inclusive and better at training. We’d let people without loud voices have as much a say in the process as us big mouths. We would stop employing badly behaved people however good they are. We would stop bullying and bad behaviour!” – Nicola Shindler
Sharon Horgan is the co-creator and star of the comedies Catastrophe and Pulling. Her writing credits also include Motherland and Divorce. Horgan has just made her Hollywood debut in the movie Game Night.
Georgina Campbell is an actress whose credits include Black Mirror, Murdered By My Boyfriend – for which she won a Bafta – Broadchurch and Flowers. She starred in the Guy Ritchie movie King Arthur: Legend of the Sword in 2017 alongside Jude Law.
Aisling Bea is an actress, comedian and writer known for appearing in The Fall, Gap Year, Hard Sun and Trollied. In 2017 she became the first ever female captain of the panel show 8 Out Of 10 Cats.
Jennifer Kirby is an actress best known for her recurring role as nurse Valerie Dyer in Call the Midwife. She has also done plenty of work on stage.
Nicola Shindler is the founder of Red Production Company, and has brought series like Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax, Scott & Bailey and Trust Me to the small screen.
Pippa Harris co-founded Neal Street Productions and was the producer behind Call the Midwife, Penny Dreadul and The Hollow Crown, to name a few.
Annabel Scholey is an actress, known for her roles in Britannia and Being Human. She is also set to star in The Split later this year.
Gaby Roslin is a TV and radio presenter. She became a household name in the 90s when she presented The Big Breakfast on Channel 4 with Chris Evans.
Jane Ripley is the casting director behind Skins, This Country, Clique and Chewing Gum, to name a few. Her choices have sculpted the TV landscape as we see it today.
Photography in lead picture by Jeff Spicer, Tom Leishman and Anthony Woods.