Successful Actresses/Producers (and why that matters)

Behind the scenes, it has been historically male writers, male producers, and male directors. Over the last decade or so, more and more women are getting work behind the camera and, noticeably, making a profit from their work. This includes the independent film world because there tends to be more diversity since independent filmmakers are, well, independent, and start out on their own terms. Several actresses have become producers, creating more independent films and documentaries. Why is this important?

In the world of media, producers are really the caretakers. Ever notice at the Academy Awards, who comes to the stage to accept the award for Best Picture? It is the producers who come up. They found the story, spent or found money to make it; they find the director, the actors, and the many other necessities to bring a story to life. When a woman who has had to work for men turns the tables, the audiences have been given dynamic and complicated characters and they love it.  Just ask the box office and Award circuit.

Here is a list of some of some of these actresses/producers:

Margot Robbie

In a short time, she went from becoming the hot “It” girl in various television and film productions to showing off her talent as an actress and accomplished independent producer. Her second  film as a producer that she also starred in is the Academy Award-nominated film, I, Tonya. This was a comedy-drama about one of the Olympics’ biggest scandals. She has half a dozen other films in the works according to her IMDB page ranging from big-budget superheroes to small independent films.

Eva Longoria

Once known as the hot housewife, she is now a producer of television shows and documentaries where she has focused on  more variety of content for Latinx people as well as for a wider audience. Devious Maids, full of twists and turns, is a telenovela of the lives of Latin housemaids for the wealthy in Beverly Hills. She continues producing documentaries on a wide variety of subjects such as climate change and politics. Eva is an example of taking full advantage of her big break and making it last while bringing more opportunities for a demographic that is huge yet often under-represented.

Drew Barrymore

She was acting since she was a single digit. By the time she was in her 20s, she started to produce some of the most beloved romantic comedies and action films. She also is the person behind independent, cult classics such as Donnie Darko and Whip It. One of her bigger projects was the two Charlie’s Angels films where she played one of the leads. One of her decisions as a producer was that she was adamant that only the villains would use guns. She has since moved onto streaming shows such as the hilarious and often graphic comedy, Santa Clarita Diet, and her own talk show, The Drew Barrymore Show.

Reese Witherspoon

She has received nominations for her acting work and now, as a producer of  films and TV shows. She noticed that roles went on a decline as soon as an actress turned 30. On top of that, most of the female characters, at any age were pretty one dimensional. She decided to take matters into her own hands. As an avid reader, Reese started buying the rights to books, fought with other studios and overall proved everyone who doubted her wrong. Gone Girl and Wild were huge successes in the Award circuit and at the box office. Big Little Lies became so popular that even though it is based on one book, the demand convinced her production company and HBO to produce a second season. Viewers applauded the rich, complex female characters in all of her productions. Thankfully, Reese isn’t finished yet, her IMDB page reports that she is working on several film and TV projects!


Written by Tara Jabbari
Filmmaker Relations, DCIFF