Ahead of this year's International Women's Day on 8 March, we're giving a nod to the women we admire behind the scenes and we think should get more of the limelight for the work they do.
And what a list it is:
Deepa: Hannah Beachler is my favourite behind-the-scenes woman filmmaker. She’s a production designer that has worked on many of the most aesthetically-pleasing films I’ve ever seen, including Moonlight. A lot of the films she works on centre around African American lives and stories, and it’s really cool to see how her design details have changed over the course of her career. Last year, she won the Oscar for her work on Black Panther, which made her the first black woman ever to win the Best Production Design award – I think she’s on track to do the same for Black Panther 2!
Clair: Paule Constable – best lighting designer in the business and fellow Goldsmiths alumni. She has literally worked with everyone on everything, everywhere and has made a massive impact on and has major influence in the field of Lighting Design. A brilliant, super-talented, insanely creative person whose feet remain very much on the ground. http://www.pauleconstable.com/
Also, Caro Newling – inspirational theatre producer. Since establishing and running the Donmar with Sam Mendez, Neal Street Productions Theatre slate exudes class and quality of the highest order. A no nonsense woman who is as formidable as she is fun.
Natasha: Aside from all the incredible women I work with at TCS, I would have to chose my mum. She’s been in the theatre industry for over a decade and has done pretty much every job you could imagine. I’m convinced the theatre she works at would struggle to operate without her. When someone is sick, she is the first one to step in and cover for them – from contracts to cleaning, she’s done it all!
Sam: Sarah Polley directed arguably the most intense film about desire that there is – Take This Waltz. She started off as a child actor and smashed her way through the glass ceiling by writing and directing her own stuff. In a great New York Times piece that she wrote in the midst of the #MeToo movement she said: ‘I had no idea, until then, how little respect I had been shown as an actor. Now there were no assistant directors trying to cajole me into sitting on their laps, no groups of men standing around to assess how I looked in a particular piece of clothing. I could decide what I felt was important to say, how to film a woman, without her sexuality being a central focus without context.’
Alice: Lynette Linton and Adjoa Andoh who brought together a company, creative team and crew of women of colour at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse for their 2019 production of Richard II – ‘yes, there are enough of us’ said Andoh.
Charlotte: Screenwriter Sally Wainwright is the mind behind the likes of Gentleman Jack, Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax and Scott & Bailey. As a sucker for a TV drama, hers have always been amongst my favourites. The stellar casts her creations draw in is a testament to the incredible woman characters that she writes – always varied, always messy, always flawed, always real, always funny but always powerful, representative and just downright brilliant. And not only does she write every word, she also produces and directs them. What. A. Woman.
Honourable mention: I think it would it be amiss – especially on International Women’s Day – not to applaud Adèle Haenel for taking a stand at this year’s César Awards.
Ben: Nia Janis – Co-founder of Playful Productions when she was in her 30s. The company is now one of the West End’s leading producing and general management companies. Its productions have received 27 Olivier Awards, 10 Tony® Awards, 8 Evening Standard Awards, 2 Golden Globe® Awards, 8 Emmy® Awards, 1 Oscar® nomination and 1 Grammy® nomination.
The company also is renowned for being one of the best employers in town. That makes her a pretty amazing woman if you ask me!
Asher: Leonie Scott-Matthews – Pentameters Theatre
Having run the same little above-the-pub theatre for about 40 years, Leonie has somehow never lost her enthusiasm. In a former time, Pentameters Theatre welcomed names like Harold Pinter and Ted Hughes through its doors, but is now more of a relic of Hampstead’s artistic past. And yet Leonie, now in her seventies, just keeps on going. The theatre has been under threat from property developers for a while now, but having secured a license from the government that means it has to remain a theatre, it feels like Leonie will be there forever…
Georgia: Rae Smith – not only is she nominated twice for Set design at the Olivier awards this year, but she’s also behind the set design for War Horse and the amazing adaptation of Skellig in 2008 amongst other projects.