ANAHEIM, Calif. (NRB) – Only 18 percent of films are directed or led by women in Hollywood, making the industry one of needed growth and simultaneous struggle for female directors, producers, and actresses, said Jackelyn Viera Illoff during the first-ever women in entertainment panel at Proclaim 19, the NRB International Christian Media Convention in Anaheim, California.
Eight women in the entertainment industry gathered for a panel discussion moderated by Evy Baehr Carroll, host of Movieguide® TV, March 27 as part of the TV & Film Summit at the Convention.
Panelists included actress Madeline Carroll; Cindy Bond, CEO of Mission Pictures International; Jerilyn Esquibel, executive vice president of creative development for Kingdom Studios; Beverly Holloway, casting director and producer for Beverly Holloway Casting; Jackelyn Viera Iloff, senior advisor and director for Lakewood Movie Night and Joel Osteen Ministries; Shari Rigby, actress and director for The Women In My World; Suzy Sammons, CMO and executive editor for Giving Company and Dove.org; and Priscilla Shirer, Bible teacher and author for Going Beyond Ministries.
The women on the panel discussed a wide range of issues facing women in the film industry, as well as practical advice for other women who hope to go into the same field.
In addition to having a mission and vision for one’s life, most of the panelists agreed that Christian men and women going into the film industry must seek and know God’s direction for their lives before they try to do anything else.
“If this is truly your calling, where God has given you a peace of knowing that you’re in the lane you’re supposed to be, don’t give up,” Bond said. “When preparation meets opportunity, and when you get that chance, be prepared.”
As women seek God’s calling on their lives, this also requires humility and a willingness to serve and not be noticed in the early stages of one’s career, they said, which provides an essential foundation for future relationships and opportunities for work.
“Be willing to serve, be willing to empty the trash in the production office, be willing to stock the fridge with waters, be willing to be available and to serve to do whatever,” Holloway said. “Be humble and realize that’s really where it starts.”
As people seek humility in their careers in the film industry, it helps to remember the glamor of it exists almost entirely on the red carpet.
“When you get behind the scenes if you’re an actor, director, producer, or a grip, it is hard work,” Illoff explained. “It’s grueling hours and you need to be prepared to do everything if you’re a producer – roll up your sleeves and get it done so the movie can get on the screen.”
As women in the entertainment sphere, the panelists discussed balance in home and work life as a critical component to both their Christian faith and the thriving of their families in each season of their vocational lives.
“In the Christian media world, we shouldn’t detach from our families when we go to create our work,” Sammons said. Instead, the film industry, for Christians, often provides a family-friendly environment for healthy work-life balance.
Shirer, actress and mother of three, encouraged attendees, specifically women, to remember that the various seasons in life will shift one’s priorities and goals, especially with a family, which requires perpetual attuning to the Lord’s leading.
“Our task is to tune in and ask the Lord, ‘What will honor You in this particular season of my life? What do I need to prioritize so that my priorities align with Yours during this season?’ And I give myself to those fully,” she said.
Most of the women on the panel with children shared about their kids being integrated into their career, from helping on set to going on trips together, and how that shapes not only their family dynamics but the way their children see the world and work and their faith lived out in a unique environment.
Holloway reminded attendees that there are certain types of people producers and directors want to hire: those who are excited, eager to learn, humble, and open to whatever God has planned for them.
“Those are the kind of people we want to mentor and develop because we see that energy and passion and drive,” she said. “But, also, don’t hold it too closely. Hold it with a loose hand, knowing God could take it. We have to be willing to let it go if God changes that.”
The “Women in Entertainment” panel was one of several sessions held during the one-day NRB TV & Film Summit. Other panel topics included “The Future of Television,” “The Future of Film,” and “Where are the movies on Christian TV?”
Other sessions were led by DeVon Franklin, president & CEO of Franklin Entertainment; Erwin McManus, founder and lead pastor of Mosaic in Los Angeles; and writer, director, and actor Alex Kendrick of the Kendrick Brothers.
Capping the summit was a Super Session at which Kingdom Studios unveiled an unprecedented slate of faith-based film projects to be developed and produced by Kingdom and released through their recently announced partnership with global content leader Lionsgate.
The TV & Film Summit on March 27 was one of the four industry summits that took place during the week of Proclaim 19. Others included the Great Commission Summit (March 25), the Radio Summit (March 28), and the Digital Media Summit (March 29).
By RuthAnne Irvin