Made In Dagenham actress Andrea Riseborough has said funding problems are part of the reason there are so few women directors as she called on British film-makers to support the 4% challenge.
The challenge was launched at the Sundance Film Festival in January by Time’s Up and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, and urges members of the industry to commit to working with a female director within the next 18 months.
It refers to the statistic that just 4% of the 1,200 top grossing films over the last decade were directed by women.
Riseborough is the first British actress to formally make the pledge following its launch by Creed actress Tessa Thompson at Sundance.
She told Press Association: “Most of the people who hold the purse strings are not women. That’s a huge problem and so the 4% challenge, the reason it’s great is if you say ‘I’m going to commit to working with a female director in the next 18 months’ and a couple of studios do that, already you’ve created momentum to get women experience in the industry to be able to one day perhaps have control of the purse strings.
“At the minute, there are very few women in positions of power, there are incredible women in positions of power in our industry, but we’re not represented equally across the board, there’s a lot of pay disparity still, and certainly when you watch awards shows there literally aren’t sometimes films to nominate that have been directed by women, and that goes back to a funding level and being a problem at a funding level”.
Dame Heather Rabbatts, chairwoman of Time’s Up UK, said: “We are urging the film industry here in the UK to be purposeful in how inclusion is advocated for, that’s why Time’s Up and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative initiated the #4PercentChallenge, and we are delighted to announce Andrea Riseborough’s commitment to the challenge, the first British actor to do so since Tessa Thompson formally launched it at Sundance earlier this year.”
The former BBC and Millwall Football Club executive said female directors “should be given the same opportunity as their male colleagues to achieve their creative ambitions in the art of storytelling”.
She added: “We also know that women directors are more inclusive and make a significant contribution to the bringing on of other female professionals in roles both in front of and behind the camera. We hope that this commitment to the #4PercentChallenge is a step in that direction.”
Riseborough joins a list of Hollywood stars including Captain Marvel’s Brie Larson, Amy Schumer, Bryce Dallas Howard and Kyra Sedgwick who have accepted the challenge.
A number of big film studios including Universal, MGM and Paramount have also made the pledge.
Jurassic Park star Chris Pratt also recently told the Press Association about his plans to star in a film helmed by Elizabeth Banks in response to the 4% Challenge.
Dame Heather said now was the right time to launch the 4% challenge because “in terms of Time’s Up, we’re very much focused on looking forward, what are the things we need to do that change the dial for women in this industry.
She told Press Association: “And this is, it’s Time Up X2, we’re into our second year and therefore for us it felt absolutely the right area to shine a light into the representation of women as directors.
“We think this is about building momentum, about building step change so that we will see more women directors and ultimately they will be able to be nominated – whether it be for Baftas or for Oscars – increasing in the future. There’s still an absence of women directors and it’s hugely notable”.
The Time’s Up campaign was unveiled with a full-page advert in the New York Times and was created in 2018 amid sexual assault and harassment allegations emerging in the entertainment industry.
Riseborough’s pledge for the #4PercentChallenge comes ahead of International Women’s Day on Friday March 8.