Being heard in a male-dominated industry

Dominque Anders has spent 10 years as a Co-Executive Producer, Director and Writer for television.

Growing up, all I cared about was telling stories, being creative and having fun so naturally when it came to the big question of ‘What am I going to do for a living?’ the answer was obviously clear.

Move to Hollywood and become a big shot Producer, Director and Writer! Ahhh if only it were that easy, right? But I started the path anyway and applied to college.

I was about halfway into my first week at film school when I started noticing something strange.

I’d look around the room, I realize that there were barely any girls in my classes; it was all boys. And at the time, all the films they were creating in class had to do with zombies, werewolves or total “dude” topics that for the most part, were not only unrelatable to us few girls but definitely didn’t provide roles for us as well.

But after a while, our talents all started to emerge and I no longer felt like the girl in the class; I was just another student alongside my filmmaking peers.

Flash forward to the real deal when I arrived in Hollywood. Funny enough, it was like college all over again.   I wasn’t prepared for the lack of females I would encounter once I actually made it into the entertainment industry.

To be clear, I’ve had an amazing career working in TV, working with fair minded leaders who have always championed my work but I have definitely had my fair share of run ins, usually on set, where being female (and small at 5’1”) didn’t always work in my favor.

dominiqueandersonsetsmile

Photo by Mark Daniels

There was that one show where every time I would call out a direction over the walkie, our male production manager felt the need to undermine my authority and question it, also over the walkie, so everyone else could hear and snicker.

Then there was a show in Atlanta, Georgia where the Director of Photography insisted on calling me “honey” every time he addressed me:

“Honey, you can’t possibly carry that upstairs, too heavy for you.”

“Honey, why don’t you let the men here do all the work.”

And then by far my favorite was in a meeting when a male executive went around the table introducing everyone – including my Co-Supervising Producer counterpart – except me.

Wouldn’t you know, I was the only female on the management team.

At this point, I’ve been in the entertainment industry for over 13 years and while, yes, I’ve had my fair share of run ins feeling like an outsider, I’ve also worked my tail off to the point where personally, I no longer really have that feeling of being a “female” producer or director. I’m just a producer | director. And truth be told, if people see any different, I chalk it up to their issue, not mine.

Here’s a few tips that have helped me overcome feeling like an outsider in a male dominated industry.

LEARN TO USE YOUR VOICE

In any situation, but especially as a female working in a male dominated industry I’ve learned that quickly setting the record straight from the get go has saved me worlds of stress and anxiety later.

Whether it’s ensuring that the team knows my role and what I’m bringing to the table down to what I expect of them, setting expectations early on gives everyone a clear understanding of the team dynamics and how I like to lead.

I’ve also found myself in situations where I’m being talked over or ignored in meetings or on set and I’ve found that both hand gestures and coming from a calm, assertive place of authority have worked wonders in my favor as opposed to getting into a heated argument or just shutting down.

REMEMBER WE’RE ALL EQUAL

No matter what the statistics are on how much more men get paid than women, on who’s better for the job or who has been promoted or hasn’t, keeping in mind that in the grand scheme of things we’re all on a level playing field, will help you get past the hurdles you may face.

No matter how confident and secure someone may come across, trust and know that they have moments of insecurity and doubt too. Men and women. Some just hide it better than others.

CREATE ALLIANCES

Just because someone is the loudest, doesn’t mean they’re the smartest or have all the answers. They just may have the most confidence to stand up and give their opinions. As women in male dominated fields, we need to create alliances with each other to help each other grow and succeed.

Find others in your network that you believe in and champion their successes. When you see that their ideas are being shelved, stand up for them. The only way we’re going to grow as a society is when we start celebrating the successes of others as opposed to tearing them down.

 

Author

Dominique Anders is an Entertainment Producer & Certified Business and Lifestyle Coach for Creative Power Players. 

As an owner of a production company and a coaching practice, Dominique knows what it’s like to juggle the creative and logistical side of things. She brings over a decade of experience as a Co-Executive Producer, Director and Writer for television, documentaries and branded entertainment as she works with creatives and small businesses to help them set goals, focus on projects and face their fears along the way.

When Dominique isn’t near a camera or working with clients, you can usually find her at an airport with her passport in hand or surfing the beaches of California and Hawaii.

You can read learn more about Dominque at www.dominiqueanders.com