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Tilted:

Episode 1

How Reese and Eva are shaking up Hollywood

Featuring:

Eva Longoria, Lauren Levy Neustadter, Liz Tigelaar, Nichelle Tramble, Stacy Smith

About this Episode

Lights, camera… equality? Rachel heads to L.A. to find out if things are really changing for women in Hollywood. USC’s Stacy Smith walks us through the numbers (and why she’s newly optimistic). We visit Reese Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine, to chat with Head of TV & Film Lauren Levy Neustadter and showrunners Liz Tigelaar and Nichelle Tramble Spellman. And Eva Longoria shares her wisdom between takes—literally—while she directs her new show, Grand Hotel.

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Transcript

Rachel Thomas: Welcome to Tilted: A Lean In podcast. Each week we'll explore the uneven playing field, the gender bias that lurks in unexpected places, the impact it has on our everyday lives, and what happens when women lean in and start driving change. I'm your host, Rachel Thomas. For years we've all heard how underrepresented women are in Hollywood–both on screen and behind the camera. But recently it's felt like things might be changing. My kids and I cheered on the math whizzes in Hidden Figures and then we did it again and again. Wonder Woman directed by the amazing Patty Jenkins killed at the box office. And ‘Big Little Lies’ - one of my personal favorites - became a cultural sensation. A show about women. And our lives and our struggles and our friendships. All of this got me thinking: are these one-offs or is this a wave of real change in Hollywood? One that is terribly overdue. So I did what any new podcaster does and I headed to L.A. to get the answer. And I even ended up on the set of Eva Longoria’s new show “Grand Hotel.” But more on that in a minute.

Rachel Thomas: My first conversation was with Stacy Smith. She's the founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at USC and she studies the lack of diversity in films and TV. Stacy started by walking me through the numbers.

Stacy Smith: Basically there has been no progress when it comes to gender equality on screen across almost 50,000 speaking characters. Females are less than a third of all speaking parts on screen. This is a very low bar that has to be crossed to be in our study. A character only has to say one word. So we're really seeing still an inclusion crisis on screen.

Rachel Thomas: And that wasn't even the worst of it. A few of the stats she shared were really just shocking.

Stacy Smith: In 2017, out of a hundred films, roughly a third featured a girl or woman driving the action. But if we were to think about women of color, only four films out of a hundred had a woman of color at the lead. But we're just seeing erasure across groups, whether it's people with disabilities, LGBT, people of color, or girls and women.

Rachel Thomas: Wow. I knew it was bad but I had no idea it was that bad. But it turns out the signs of progress I saw as a TV and movie lover myself were real. In fact the more we spoke, I really realized Stacy's optimistic. In fact she's more optimistic than she's ever been.

Stacy Smith: Let's take a look at the top three movies of last year at the U.S. box office. Wonder Woman, Beauty and The Beast and Star Wars. All three have something in common. They have a female character really at the heart of the entire story.

Rachel Thomas: And Stacy’s even more optimistic about what's happening on the small screen.

Stacy Smith: What's really fantastic with this explosion of streaming services– there are so many more opportunities. So I think most folks are looking to television particularly in this time of renaissance for storytelling on the small screen. And that's really, I think,where the future is headed. I think there's a lot to be hopeful for and look to and a new day may just be around the corner– which, it's even odd for me to say that out loud. But all of these factors are lining up and it may just be enough to create a sea change.

Rachel Thomas: And I was thrilled to hear that Stacy thinks women are a big part of this change.

Stacy Smith: When you have a female director you're more likely to have girls and women onscreen, you're more likely to have girls and women at the center of a story, you're more likely to have racial and ethnic diversity on screen. One of the quickest ways to change in the entertainment industry is to simply hire more female directors. But we need more female showrunners, right? From a variety of different backgrounds telling stories.

Rachel Thomas: My next stop was Reese Witherspoon's production company where I sat down with the women creating shows with women at the center of the action.

We are here today in the beautiful offices of Hello Sunshine and it is warm and sunny outside so I definitely feel like I'm in L.A. Today I'm chatting with Lauren Levy Neustadter, Head of Film and TV at Hello Sunshine."

Lauren Levy Neustadter: Hi!

Rachel Thomas: Liz Tigelaar, the showrunner of “Casual” on Hulu and of the upcoming miniseries, “Little Fires Everywhere,” which everyone in my office can't wait for. And she's previously written for shows like “Nashville”, “Revenge” and “Brothers and Sisters”. So, so excited to have you.

Liz Tigelaar: Thank you.

Rachel Thomas: And last but certainly not least, we're also joined by Nichelle Tramble Spellman, the showrunner of “Are You Sleeping,” which is now in production and will air on Apple TV. And Nichelle’s also well known for producing the hit show and one of my favorites, “The Good Wife”.

Nichelle Tramble Spellman: Yes. One of my favorites too.

Rachel Thomas: So thank you all so much for being here, ladies.

All: Thank you for having us.

Rachel Thomas: So I don't know a lot about Hollywood and I don't know how much our listeners know but I know a lot of your projects are based on books. What do you look for in the story, like, how do you know you've got a winner?

Lauren Levy Neustadter: Well, you feel it. For our company, we have specific things that we look for, right? For Reese, it has always been a woman at the center of every story - creating these extraordinary characters for women to bring to life and representing women in ways that they have not yet been represented on screen. So there's that. With Hello Sunshine we got a little bit clearer in terms of what makes it Hello Sunshine, right? So, one of the things is we want these women to be heroes of their own stories in unconventional ways. So that is something that we always look for. Another thing that we really want is an element of hope. So, even if it isn't a bright shiny piece, where's the hope? This content, it shouldn't just be for women. It should speak to women but it should speak to everyone.

Rachel Thomas: What is a showrunner?

Nichelle Tramble Spellman: Well I kind of think of it as a general. It's just the person at the top of the chain that's marshalling all the troops. You're kind of surprised by how many troops there are.

Rachel Thomas: And then how much do you shape the vision of the show?

Liz Tigelaar: Completely shape the vision of the show and of course that's your job. And I can remember the first time I did it after having been on staff being up at the board looking around and having no idea.

Nichelle Tramble Spellman : That's actually a moment that I think that almost everybody has. I remember sitting with Lauren and our other partner, Kristen, and we were talking with the line producer for the show and he asked a question. There was silence and then I looked up and Kristen and Lauren were looking at me and I looked behind me and I was thinking, “Well who's going to answer that?”

And Lauren went – made a gesture, “It's you,” and I was like, “Yeah it is.” And it was just like this moment of like panic and then elation.

Rachel Thomas: So before you were showrunners I know you were both writers, as well. Can you talk a little bit about what it was like as a woman and maybe, Nichelle, in your case as a woman of color in the writer’s room?

Nichelle Tramble Spellman: Well I started off on a show that had four female leads called “Women's Murder Club” and my first bosses were Liz Craft and Sarah Fein who are still really good friends and mentors and so it was the perfect entry into this business, frankly. And I went to other rooms that had female showrunners. When I went to “Good Wife” it was Robert and Michelle King, so I had an experience of having shows that had female leads, really strong women in the room so I didn't have that really bumpy entry point. You know there have been points here and there where you kind of have to remind people, “Well, the women on the show have a point of view–can we talk about that? Can she not just be the wife wringing her hands at home wondering what her guy is out doing out in the big bad world?” But I think that it wasn't up for debate in the room. And then I made a decision early on to not go to shows where I thought that that was a problem. And it was a bold choice and certainly a crazy choice sometimes when I was broke and needed to go on a show. But if the offer was coming from a place where it was known to not be that friendly or to be combative or just to be an awful room, then I've turned it down. So I think I entered a little later than most people, I came to the decision-making with a little bit of “Life's too short.”

Rachel Thomas: And do you think that's a pretty rare experience that you had?

Nichelle Tramble Spellman: Yes. My agents were furious. Yes. When I said no to a couple of things that with a Sunday afternoon call which you rarely get. And they were like, “Walk me through your thought process.” And I was like, “He's a jerk. Not going to go work for them.”

Liz Tigelaar: I entered the business in my early twenties and definitely had a lot less choice. So I kind of lucked out with a great first experience. That was, that encompassed everything that a writer’s room is. You know, it was fun. It was dark. People laughed. People really cried, including me. There was a lot of drama. And as I progressed in my career I have moved into a lot of rooms that have been all women or mostly women. But I do have to say as I've moved into rooms that have had a lot of women, my experience has been really different and positive.

Lauren Levy Neustadter: Just because I think it's a really interesting thing to explore because you both staffed your rooms and so if you guys could speak about what it was when you had a blank slate and you could hire anyone. How did you assemble that team? What were you looking for? What was most important to you?

Nichelle Tramble Spellman: The first thing that was important to me was talent on the page. I needed to read writing samples that spoke to me in some way. So it was like talent, reputation, and then a chemistry test. And then from there it was like moving pieces on a chessboard to try to assemble the group that worked really well together.

Liz Tigelaar: Up until recently I don't think I had been in a room or staffed a room that I could say was truly diverse in all ways and having been in a room that was even for a short time. The impact of being in that room was so dramatic and the value was like nothing I had experienced and it completely changed my approach to staffing and I mean, it's a naive thing to say because of course, that's obvious. But when you haven't been sitting in a room like that for all these years, you don't know.

Rachel Thomas: So one of the things as someone who's coming from outside the industry– what does it feel like? Like, how was it different when you get this beautifully diverse and inclusive writing room? Like, what happens? How is it different? How are the decisions made? And what I'm most interested in–how do you think it changes what we're watching at home in our living rooms?

Lauren Levy Neustadter: I would say, I think “Little Fires Everywhere”. I mean just the way that you put that room together and the fact that for us always this was a show. It was a book that inspired conversations about race and class. You were unbelievably intentional in terms of staffing that room with a goal–toward a goal of having people come to the same conversation from very different places.

Liz Tigelaar: Absolutely. Part of the reason that “Little Fires” expanded was because I've noticed a tendency in the room that you get, you know, this writer to be this voice. Your gay writer is going to be your gay voice and you're black writer is going to be your black voice and you're Asian writer is going to be your Asian voice and whatever else. And when I met people for the show, everybody had such a vastness of things that they could bring to it. And I didn't want any one person to feel like they were the one thing on this show. I wanted each person to feel like they had three or four or five or 20 things that only they could bring to this show and yes, a lot of those things will overlap. So that was very intentional.

Rachel Thomas: It's incredibly inspiring to hear about your experiences. I mean you're all clearly amazing and strong, talented, collaborative women. I worry a little that people listening might be getting a bit rosier sense of kind of what it is really like here in Hollywood.

Nichelle Tramble Spellman: Oh, I mean I can tell you lots of stories…

Rachel Thomas: All joking aside, it's wonderful this is happening. But how special or unique are the experiences you're describing versus kind of what's typical?

Liz Tigelaar: Yeah it's interesting. It was funny because in preparation for doing this, I was trying to kind of remember some things and think about things and I was actually thinking about two pilots that I did. I was thinking about conversations I had had with men in either executive roles or producerial roles who kind of came to me at various times and said, “You know, you just don't seem happy.” That type of thing. And on the first pilot it was a situation where I had created this show, all these people were all in deals so it was like, “Hey, this director has a deal at CBS and he's got to direct something. How about putting him on this?” Or, “This person has this.” And it wasn't necessarily a match of passion for the project. And I remember feeling very much like, you know what, I'm not happy. I was in my twenties, I had kind of taken the attitude of, I'm just so happy to be here. I'm so grateful that this is happening, and I feel so young, and my eyes are so big, and I'm in Vancouver and I'm on the set of my show. But it doesn't feel like my show and all these decisions are being made by all these men that are 30 years older than me and nobody's asking me and then when I'm confused or I'm questioning it, I'm not happy or I'm a problem. And it was really really upsetting.

Nichelle Tramble Spellman: I hate that it seems like it's all rosy because it's not. But I'm very, very, very, very clear about what I tolerate and what I don't. And I'm very clear about what situations I want to be in. So, you know, being younger and starting this business as an assistant at one of the big agencies– that's a different Nichelle. Like you know, there was crying and coming home at eleven o'clock at night and really crazy things being said all the time that I had to ignore whether it was sexist or racist or this or that. And you know just having these conversations about, “How do I deal with this?” And not being in an environment where the generation of women who were there at that time–because of what they had dealt with– were not as here, “Let me give you a leg up. Let me help you with this. Let me tell you how to navigate it.” They were all dealing with the fact that there was room for one. So if there was room for one woman there was half a room for a black woman. So that was a very tricky situation and it got the best of me, to be quite frank. I worked here for about four years and couldn't take it anymore. Went back to the Bay Area where I'm from and went back to writing books. And then I lived in New York for a while, got a little older and was like, “OK, I can handle this now.” But it did. It absolutely took me out of the game. It just made me feel like I don't know what I'm doing, I don't know who I am. More importantly, I don't like who I feel like I have to be to be in this business. So I need to go home.

Rachel Thomas: So you mentioned that one of the things that's so important to Reese is having, you know, a woman at the center of the story and a strong woman. So you were on “The Mindy Project” where a lot of this has to have started there for you. Can you tell me about that experience?

Lauren Levy Neustadter: I have to say and I will try not to get emotional when I say. But it really changed my life. I mean, Mindy Kaling is the most tremendous woman. She created a show with her name in the title that was so near and dear to her heart. And she worked so hard as a writer, as a producer of the show, as the star of the show. I mean, talk about like, show running. I mean she - every little casting decision that was made, how everything looked, the costumes, it was all coming through her prism. I mean, obviously she had an extraordinary team around her and truly the best in the business in terms of the people working on that show. But it was her vision and she was so fearless. She was confident and collaborative but always sure of where she was going.

Rachel Thomas: You are now the women running the show. So what difference do you think it makes having a woman in charge?

Liz Tigelaar: Oh, I mean it’s everything. I mean, first of all, women get shit done. And if you add mom on top of women, moms get shit done. I mean, nothing is worse than some dude who doesn't want to go home. Versus women, women want to get in there, they want to get it done, they want to go home, and they want to do the other things that they do in life that are equally if not even way more important.

Rachel Thomas: Who have been mentors for you – male or female mentors – where did you learn how to do this?

Nichelle Tramble Spellman: I just collected mentors along the way. Michelle King, who I worked with on “Good Wife”, gave me this really, really great piece of advice that I took into starting this show. She said, “When you start to do interviews, always make sure there's a man in the room.” And I thought that was really odd. And she said, “Because if the person comes in to interview with you and they never look at you and they only talk to the men in the room, that's going to tell you a lot about what the relationship and what it's going to be like going forward.” And it was the best piece of advice ever. And Lauren sat in on quite a few meetings that I did for the show. And there were a few moments where we saw it and she and I just mind melded across the table like, “OK, this is happening, right?”

Lauren Levy Neustadter: And we would just look at it and it was like, OK.

Nichelle Tramble Spellman: Yeah. And it was just like OK. You know, [be] polite, [be] my mother's daughter and keep it moving. And then they were gone. But it was like, I just sort of collect them. If I've loved you once I love you always, so even if it's from twenty years ago you may hear from me and I'm like, “Hey let me take you to lunch because you did this this and this for me and it's helped me in this way.”

Rachel Thomas: So a “wow” moment for me and it's a movie moment, but Wonder Woman did so well commercially, and it had a female director. It just felt like, again, as a consumer, that that was like a “wow” moment because for so long I think we've been told, “women can't carry movies,” “women directors shouldn’t have the big budgets,” etc. What have some been some wow moments been for you guys recently where you were like, “the dam really is cracking”

Liz Tigelaar: Well, Crazy Rich Asians is actually an amazing example because I was so excited about the movie obviously for macro reasons and then for micro reasons just in that my friend was a co-writer of it and I was just so thrilled for her. And it’s shot in her hometown where she grew up in Malaysia and it was just exciting. And so my wife and I played hooky from work one day to go see it and we were so excited. And just watching it, I mean I just sobbed at the end. So you want to support something like that because it feels weighty and important and timely and like, you must. But watching it, I was like, “This is a f––ing amazing movie!” This isn't a movie just to support because you should. This is a movie that is it, and it was it was just such a wonderful romantic comedy that felt like it had an amazing message. It was so well written, well-acted, well-directed and it just felt – I loved it.

Nichelle Tramble Spellman: Last year Black Panther came out and that felt wonderful to see this big superhero movie. Wonder Woman, and then in TV it was the shows that delved into the specificity of different worlds that had not been opened before, whether that was “Master of None” which I loved, “Atlanta,” which is just brilliant, “Insecure”– where you see all these new windows opening up and you couldn't have told those stories five years ago.

Lauren Levy Neustadter: I also think, if it's less about the specific content and more about the moment. I think Time's Up and #MeToo. it has been a paradigm shift because what we have seen is women coming together to support one another and really doing so in a very public way. And I think it's been an ongoing conversation. And a lot of what I have observed in terms of this sisterhood is that women are walking the walk and that they are standing up for one another and standing beside one another in a really gorgeous way and that there is a strength in numbers and accountability. And I think it just feels like all of these films and these shows are so tremendous. And I think “Big Little Lies” actually goes in the category with them. But I think that it's also just what's going on behind the scenes that is really revolutionizing the industry in an exciting way.

Rachel Thomas: What does it look like in 20 years?

Liz Tigelaar: I guess what I hope in 20 years is that people are continuing to stretch themselves and expand themselves and challenge themselves and prioritize everyone's stories– not because it's the cool thing to do or the thing everyone's doing but because it's so fundamentally important.

Nichelle Tramble Spellman: And I'm hoping that movies and TV continue to steer the conversation with content in a way that it forces people to continue to have conversations with each other even when they're on different sides of a point of view, different sides of the fence. And not just have a conversation about it but actually listen to each other. If twenty years from now, Hollywood helped to steer everybody back to a more sane place, I'd love that. Might be idealistic, but I'd love that.

Lauren Levy Neustadter: I think that what is most important is to be representing all types of characters, to be telling all types of stories. It's really about telling stories that will connect with people. And then as Nichelle said, inspire conversation. I mean, I think that is so much of what we aspire to do. And as you said, speaking and listening, and that we're creating great content as a result in all forms.

Rachel Thomas: Thank you, ladies. This is awesome.

We're going to take a quick break to hear from our sponsor and then we'll be back to hear more from the women shaking up Hollywood.

[Background - on set of ‘Grand Hotel’]: From the top! From the top. Background does the exact same thing we've been doing. Here we go.

Rachel Thomas: The following morning I found my way to the set of Eva Longoria’s new show, “Grand Hotel.” There I chatted with even her team between takes - literally between takes. In addition to Eva's voice you'll hear the voices of Alison Kelly, director of photography, Michele Labrucherie, first assistant director and Ben Spector, Eva's business partner.

So the one thing that, looking around - there's a lot of women working off, behind the camera with you. Is it more than usual? Is this typical?

Eva Longoria: No. We have a couple of unicorns on our set. Allison’s a unicorn. You rarely see a female DP.

Rachel Thomas: What’s a DP?

Eva Longoria: Director of photography. It was very important for me to have women behind the camera. We have–Michelle our assistant director. I'm director. So we have a lot of women. We have a female stunt coordinator, which is also pretty rare. So it's been fun crewing up with that perspective and that lens because that never happens when somebody goes, “I want women and I want people of color.”

Rachel Thomas: There are three women standing behind kind of controlling all the action which is so amazing, just to see three women huddled over the screens, watching all the action, calling all the shots and directing everybody around. It's just really exciting. So it feels really different. And I've only been on one other set and it feels incredibly different than that.

So how does it feel to have a female director/producer behind the camera?

Ben Spector: It's amazing. You know, we developed the the show for two and a half years, so she [Eva] knew the show from from the DNA of it. And she sort of rushed back from maternity leave. You'll see the baby coming in and out. So, you know, she's she's doing it all right now. She's breastfeeding on set and in between takes. But she's one of the most prepared directors I've ever seen. Because she comes in every day with every shot planned out. You know, we had–one day last week was on location and we did 95 different set-ups which is unheard of.

Rachel Thomas: And is the vibe on set different because there [are] so many women here behind the camera?

Ben Spector: Well, it was really important to us when we put together the crew of the show that we had women at the top of every department. So, you know, a female DP is almost like a unicorn. They’re really hard to find, and the good ones are always working. We have two female first AVs. Michelle has worked with Eva since she was a PA on “Desperate Housewives.” So it was really important to us that we had people we trusted and women, because that sets a different tone. It’s a better working environment for us.

Rachel Thomas: So there's a lot more women behind the camera. Why do you think that makes a difference in terms of what we see at home?

Eva Longoria: I think that, you know, the lens in which you view life should be the lens in which we create entertainment. If we only have male directors, there's such a male perspective on how you would walk upstairs, how you would deliver this scene, how you would give birth. If the woman's directing, she has a very different perspective as to what is important in this scene - to show, to shoot, to hear, to feel. And I think that's why you want women behind the camera. Because it does make a difference in what goes on screen, which makes a difference in what people see, which makes a difference in how people consume media, which makes a difference on how people perceive women. It is a chain reaction. And the same thing with people of color. Same thing with, you know, as a Latino. When all you see on the news is immigration and the vilifying of Latinos, people automatically assume Latino is synonymous with immigrants. Or, Latino synonymous with “illegal.” And that's not the case. But that's because that's all we see, then that's what people believe. We have a very big responsibility in the media to reflect society and its truth, I think.

Rachel Thomas: As an actor, have you ever said, “If a woman were behind the camera I wouldn’t be asked to do this,” or it wouldn’t be happening this way?

Eva Longoria: Oh my God. Not only as a woman, but as a person of color. I've had somebody tell me, “Could you be more Latino?” And I was like, “I don't know what that looks like because I am. So, what do you mean? Do you want it angrier? Do you want it happier?” Like, that's not an emotional direction for me.

Rachel Thomas: Like, can you be more yourself.

Ben Spector: Allison, do you have any time to say hi to the Lean In folks?

Rachel Thomas: I've heard you described as a unicorn twice, so why is it's so rare to have women in your role?

Allison Kelly: It's traditionally a men's role, but there are more and more of us, women DPs. I think it took a long time for people to believe that women could run a set because when I ran a crew of 40 people, they just would always ask me, “Well, can you do it? Can you boss everybody around?” Also because it’s just technical. It's like women doing any technical job that...

Rachel Thomas: That’s a weird assumption - that of course a women can't do a technical job.

Alison Kelly: Yeah. So some of it was camera operating. But now I have operators. It was always like– I would get asked in interviews, “Can you hold that camera?”

Rachel Thomas: Who was who were mentors to you then? Did you have mostly male mentors? Or was there a female mentor?

Alison Kelly: I came up in New York and I used to work with a DP called Ellen Kuras, who shot Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and a bunch of stuff. And she's great. Yeah.

Rachel Thomas: We're going to get out of your hair because I know you're super busy. But I'm also curious: you [Eva] were/are an actor and a really successful one. Was there an “aha” moment you like I got to get behind the camera?

Eva Longoria: People always say that I was an actor-turned-director. I've always been a director-turned-actor, a director/producer. I've always loved the business side of the business and I felt like when I was acting I wasn't using my full potential. I was like, “I could be doing so much more.” And then I wanted to have final control over the product or control of the final product. I didn’t want to stand there and say my lines and not have a choice of what take they chose or who they cast as my husband or what music they lay under here. So it was mostly because I wanted to control my own destiny in this industry. I think, also, why become a director? I love creating content but I love creating opportunities. I remember when I thought of “Telenovela,” the show, it was just in my head. We hired a writer. They executed it amazingly. And the sets were going up, and I was walking the sets with a friend of ours, Sean Cassidy, and all the construction people were working and painting and building and Sean goes, “Isn’t this great? You had an idea and now 300 people have a job.” And I was like, “Oh my God.” I never thought of it that way. And same thing with this. We're trying to get this finished by today and we had 60 crew people here over the weekend, hammering and painting. And it's cool to see people have jobs.

Rachel Thomas: I was trying to paint a picture – that there’s three women, kind of huddled around, but like it shouldn't be that, that is extraordinary. I shouldn't have to be surprised by that.

Michele Labrucherie: It's the first show he's ever worked on–and he's worked for 30 years on shows– where there’s a woman director and DP.

Eva Longoria: First show? That’s why I wanted to take a picture...It's kind of sad that it's not the norm yet in 2018.

Michele Labrucherie: ...That it’s still a special thing. It is special, but that it isn’t like, “Oh, of course.”

Rachel Thomas: As we were walking out, I got to spend a few minutes chatting back and forth with Eva’s fearless assistant, Brenda Serpas.

So Brenda, I know you're just getting started in entertainment. You’re Eva's assistant, which is an amazing way to get started, of course. You're a woman and a woman of color yourself. As you look to the future, how do you feel about where we are right now?

Brenda Serpas: I do feel very hopeful and it's very exciting to be working in a year where all this change is occurring. And it's really exciting to be working for someone who is a prominent figure in that movement. To change that for more positive step towards diversity–it really is great.

Rachel Thomas: It really does feel like a tipping point.

Brenda Serpas: It really does. It really does. So I'm very excited to see how far we can get and see how far we've come from that.

Rachel Thomas: Like Brenda, I think we may finally be at a tipping point in Hollywood. I know it's not a sure thing. And that we have a long way to go to get to equality on and off screen. But I can't help but feel excited. Growing up my favorite action heroes were Luke Skywalker and Indiana Jones. My son Gavin is 13. He has favorites, too, but they’re Katniss and Ray and Black Panther. The movies and shows we watch shape how we see the world, how we see each other, and even what we think is possible. This is not just about entertainment. The work Hollywood does reflects and shapes our culture. And the people I met really understand this. And they're passionate about it. They are the heroes of this story.

Thank you for listening. And join us next week when we sit down with our own Sheryl Sandberg, Joanna Coles, Phoebe Robinson, and Sean Fennessy from The Ringer to answer men's questions about work, sex and everything in between. This has been Tilted: A Lean In Podcast. And I'm your host Rachel Thomas.

Please subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play or wherever you get your podcasts. Our producers are Jordan Bell and Shara Morris. And special thanks to Katie Miserany, Ali Bohrer, and Megan Rooney from the Lean In team and Laura Mayer at Stitcher. Our engineers for this episode are Myke Dodge Weiskopf and Rob Huffman and our music was composed by Casey Holford.