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Filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom on representing women in Hollywood, politics

There is a double bind — a ridiculous standard that we hold women to who aspire toward leadership. We need more women, across the board, to run for elected office and aspire to be in the c-suite and to start companies and be judges and partners in law firms, because women’s voices haven’t been equally represented for a long time across all industries.

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Women as warriors: re-imagining & re-framing the conversation on gender equality and female power

Last week I had the great privilege of attending The Representation’s Project’s kick-off event hosted by founder and filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom. The event, which was part Mother’s Day Tribute and part a coming together of supporters from throughout the Bay Area, was the start of a broader national conversation series on gender equality, the media’s influence on young people and how collectively we can promote human rights so everyone can realize their full potential.

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How Trump’s sexist comments about beauty hurt women everywhere

Men from Trump to Joe Scarborough — who raised the hackles of feminists everywhere with his recent tweet at Hillary Clinton to smile — have found all the time in the world to focus on women’s appearances. And it’s this subtle, said-with-a-grin type of commentating that can sometimes cut the deepest, says Cristina Escobar, spokesperson for the Representation Project.

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The victory of #AskHerMore

Instead of asking women on the red carpet to describe their outfits, journalists instead made do with other kinds of banter. (Mostly: “I’ve been doing this for like 72 hours,” Mindy Kaling joked to E! of her Oscars-primping routine.) That amounted to a success for the #AskHerMore campaign, started in February 2014 by the Representation Project and objecting to the fact that women on the red carpet are so often asked about fashion while men are asked about … basically anything else.

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What female stars, from Reese Witherspoon to Sally Field, really want to discuss on the red carpet

Filmmaker and the Representation Project founder Jennifer Siebel Newsom (Miss Representation, The Mask You Live In) feels that women have much more to discuss at events than simply the designer of their dresses. So, in 2014, she launched the #AskHerMore campaign, encouraging reporters to ask actresses substantive questions that address more than just appearance.

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Super Bowl inspires fashion and political statements

"The Representation Project partnered with Futures Without Violence and Obscura Digital, which launched their #BeAModelMan campaign over the weekend by projecting messages like 'Domestic violence will not end until men stand up and put an end to it' on San Francisco landmarks."

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Oscars still so white, so male, so wrong

"We should celebrate diversity in media that reflects the world we live in. This truth in storytelling resonates with audiences all over the world. And it’s good for society. The Academy could be leading this effort, not putting itself on the wrong side of history."

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2016 Pirelli Calendar may signal a cultural shift

"There are quite a few companies and advertisers who have come to the realization that sex is not the only way to sell, and that women are so much more than our youth, our beauty, and our sexuality."

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Reese Witherspoon on how she's shaking up Hollywood, and why she feels like Gloria Steinem told her to do 'Legally Blonde'

"Jennifer Siebel Newsom interviews Reese Witherspoon, Glamour’s 2015 Woman of the Year, for the December cover story, to discuss #AskHerMore, gender inequality in Hollywood, and about what supports and drives her."

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Why do we still live in a world where girls are require to slim down, sex up, and go pink?

"I've often wondered when exactly this change occurred. The Times ties it to the 1984 decision to dismantle restrictions on children's television programming. In the documentary Miss Representation, educator Jackson Katz suggests a larger phenomenon."

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Is posing nude really the route to empowerment?

The jury’s still out on whether or not this sexuality-as-a-commodity can be empowering to the individual woman,” says Newsom. “However, we know the result is a media that fixates on women as sexual objects and doesn’t tell the story of all the other things that make women great — our leadership, our character, our talent, and our intelligence.”

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Connie Britton's secret to amazing hair is so easy, everyone (even guys) should use it

"Britton teamed up with Nashville alumna Laura Benanti for the video, with her co-star writing and directing the spot as part of The Representation Project’s fall 2015 #AskHerMore campaign, which encourages reporters to ask women more substantial questions on the red carpet than, say, 'How do you get your hair so pretty?'"

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Representations of people in the media

"With the increasing influence of media on young people, Newsom explained that [The Representation Project] aims to counteract dangerous and deceptive messages that could impact their mental and physical health. Through media representation, she said: 'Girls learn that their value lies predominantly in their youth, beauty, and sexuality.'"

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Yes, real moms can push a Bugaboo stroller in a bikini

"There’s no 'right' way to portray a strong woman, after all, and there’s no single woman who can represent all of us."

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Alex Morgan hopes her TV show changes attitudes about women athletes

"'Media informs cultural norms,' says Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who wrote, directed and produced the 2011 documentary Miss Representation, which detailed the media's impact on the under-representation of women in power in our society. 'The fact that we've given so little time and space to women in sports in any media ultimately has a negative impact on young girls and young boys.'"

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The missing Minions

"Media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms: what we value and whose stories are worth telling [said Newsom]. These messages shape how children see themselves and the world. It’s imperative that we represent our population equally and show that everyone has value."

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ACLU calls for civil rights investigation into Hollywood

"The ACLU is asking federal and California civil rights agencies to investigate what it calls 'the systemic failure' to hire female directors in the entertainment industry."

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Bud Light withdraws slogan after it draws ire online

"In a continuation of [Bud Light's] ‘Up for Whatever’ campaign, a wide blue band low on the label says, ‘The perfect beer for removing “no” from your vocabulary for the night.’ Protests quickly erupted in social media, criticizing what was perceived as perhaps not the best marketing language in the midst of public outcry over date rape on college campuses."

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We must #AskHerMore on the red carpet

“Thankfully, more and more women in Hollywood are choosing to reject and subvert that objectifying gaze (Cate Blanchett at last year’s Oscars is one prominent example), and are being joined by millions online. The Representation Project. . .led an online campaign on Monday called “#AskHerMore,” which had Twitter users encouraging red carpet reporters, in real-time, to focus less on who celebrities were wearing, and more on their talent. ”

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Miss Representation shows ugly side of women in media



“The documentary harnesses a wealth of clips, interviews, and statistics to show that women are being depicted on TV and online as poorly as ever, with dangerous potential side effects for girls sitting on the other side of the screen.”


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When a guilty pleasure starts to hurt



“Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s documentary, Miss Representation, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, drives the point home that young girls in America cannot find appropriate role models in popular culture. ‘Media is the message,’ is the overriding theme of Newsom’s excellent film. Miss Representation helped me see how a seemingly harmless act — watching reality TV — can contribute to a culture that fails to embrace women as the equal of men.”


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Sundance review: Miss Representation



“A relevant and important doc that deconstructs the insidious role of visual media in the widespread, unbalanced depiction of women and girls, Miss Representation is destined for long-term festival play and could make a significant social impact on broadcast and DVD.”

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Facing up to the female power conundrum



“The media doesn’t help women feel okay about power — a point that Jennifer Siebel Newsom nails in a new documentary called Miss Representation.”


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Revolution at sundance



“Miss Representation directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, is a long-overdue look at how media objectification of women is internalized by young girls. Real, classic — that is, unapologetic — feminism is back, at least at Sundance.”


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Sundance 2011: Is the media keeping women out of politics?



“If you think we’re in the midst of historic times for women in politics with Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and even Sarah Palin on the national stage, one documentary at Sundance is urging you to think again.”

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Media Inquiries

For all media inquiries, please contact Hannah Chatalas at 415.570.8518 or press@therepresentationproject.org

Press Kit

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