I am the middle child of four brothers. When I was a kid I used to beg my mom to try for another baby so that I could have a sister. I wanted to have a built in best friend to braid each others’ hair, play house with our American Girl dolls, and have someone on my side who understood me.
But now that I’m an adult I wouldn’t change anything. Growing up surrounded by boys taught me so many invaluable lessons such as hiding boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes in my room so that they wouldn’t eat them all right away and that ESPN is the only channel you ever need on your TV.
But seriously, my childhood made me one the toughest girls you’ll ever meet. I have a thick skin and a strong voice and I always stand my ground. I’m a good leader and I have no problems making decisions and following through. I have strong opinions and am not intimidated easily. These are all characteristics I developed from having brothers.
Being a girl in a man’s world is never something I’ve allowed myself to use as an excuse. I don’t see obstacles like that. You could call me egotistical or delusional, but if you want to play with the big boys then you have to act like one.
When you are focused on a goal and you have a clear game plan, a path is drawn to you. Men will usually take you seriously if you have the confidence in what you can contribute. If you let the fact that you are a woman make you feel like you don’t deserve to be there, then you’ve already failed.
It’s not about wearing a business suit, it’s about having a business mindset. Some small minded men may feel like women don’t have what it takes to be in business with them. Those types of men aren’t who you want to work with anyway. People are attracted to people with good ideas. If you have a good idea, sell it like it’s worth something no matter who you are. The divide will only be erased when you refuse to acknowledge that there is one.
A little over two years ago, a friend of mine and I began working together as production partners. We have created content, launched fundraisers, managed productions, hired employees, and thrown premiere parties together. We are focused and proud of what we are doing, and others can sense that.
While crowd funding for a short film we developed through Indie Gogo, I was pitching my idea to anyone and everyone who would listen. I didn’t care who they were, I just wanted them to believe in what I was doing and throw me a little money so that my dreams could be realized.
One guy that I mentioned it to had just arrived in Hollywood after working in finance for years and was looking for films to invest in. He took down my information and watched my fundraising video. He thought I was smart and took an interest in my story and asked if I had a full length feature script to show him.
“No,” I replied. “But I can get one to you. Give me 2 months.”
He agreed on that timeframe and told me to contact him when I was done. And so for two months I worked feverishly to churn out a feature length film. It wasn’t that hard considering I already had most of it worked out in my head.
Once it was finished, I met him and his business partner for lunch on the rooftop of the Montage hotel in Beverly Hills. The salads there were $25. My car wouldn’t start that morning so I had to borrow my roommate’s car and leave halfway through the meeting to feed the meter where I had parked.
I had put together a 2” thick binder full of documents and storyboards for them to see about my film. I had barely slept because I had rehearsed a pitch in my head all night long. I wore a bright blue blazer and the highest heels that I owned. I ordered a glass of champagne to drink with my $25 salad while they ordered iced tea.
After that meeting, they seemed ready to move forward. These two men who were almost twice my age and worth millions were willing to take a chance on me and invest in my story because I believed in myself and I believed I was meant to be there, even though I was a woman. Sometimes you just have to fake it until you make it.
I know that down the line as the film gets closer and closer to production I am going to have to play hard ball. Because I am somewhat young and inexperienced and especially because I am a woman it would be so easy to pay me the most minimal amount and take advantage of me. But I’ve been around long enough to know what to watch out for and how to protect myself. I’ve gotten over one huge hurdle as a woman, I’m not about to stop getting what I deserve now.
My production partner is fully on board now and we make the most killer team. She’s great on the planning, hiring, and creative side and I’m great with practicalities, productivity, and leadership. Together, we are unstoppable. Women make up 50% of the moviegoing public. Why wouldn’t you want to work with women, especially women who are qualified and understand the power of story and creativity and the impact if can have on society?
I don’t think about the fact that my investor took a chance on two girls all that much. I think about the fact that he’s taking a chance on two people who haven’t had their break yet. That’s a much cooler fact.
People will always respond to confidence. It’s contagious. If you want to compete, you have to think of yourself as a winner. Man or woman. Do whatever you have to do to stand out. Bite, claw, and fight your way to the top and never allow for the gender divide to dictate what you can and can’t do.
My brothers taught me that.