Wednesday 23 October 2019

Andrea Riseborough calls on UK film industry to embrace the 4% Challenge

The challenge urging members of the film industry to work with female directors was launched at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

Andrea Riseborough attending the EE British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, Kensington, London.
Andrea Riseborough attending the EE British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, Kensington, London.

By Kerri-Ann Roper and Laura Harding, Press Association

Made In Dagenham actress Andrea Riseborough has called on British film-makers to support the 4% Challenge, an initiative urging members of the industry to commit to working with a female director within the next 18 months.

The challenge was launched at the Sundance Film Festival in January by Time’s Up and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.

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 said: “The idea meritocracy once existed and is now dying because of ‘inclusion’ is an illusion.

“Inclusion is a cultural necessity. Mine is an influential industry and its fruits effect our social consciousness. I’m committing to working with a female director in the next 18 months because although women make up 50% of moviegoers, only 4% of studio films are directed by women.

“On projects directed by women we have statistics to prove more women also end up on screen and behind the camera.”

She added: “The 4% challenge addresses just one of the ways in which my industry under-represents, based on gender. There is much more work to be done.

“Let’s work toward balanced recruitment across all demographics and in all industries so that all races, sexualities, ages and genders/non-genders are represented in the workplace.”

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.”

Dame Heather Rabbatts (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

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.

Andrea Riseborough (Yui Mok/PA)

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.

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.

The movement advocates for legislation to tackle workplace harassment and the campaign includes a legal fund to help people protect themselves from sexual misconduct.

Harry Potter star Emma Watson was among the first stars to back Time’s Up.

The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, launched by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, is described on its official website as being the “leading think tank in the world studying diversity and inclusion in entertainment through original research and sponsored projects”.

Riseborough’s pledge for the #4PercentChallenge comes ahead of International Women’s Day on Friday March 8.

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