WEEK IN WOMEN News Roundup: Mold-breaking superhero ‘Faith’ soaring onto the big screen, Krysten Ritter making her directorial debut on ‘Jessica Jones,’ Academy adding record number of members – and boosting percentage of women members

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Sony Pictures has ordered a live-action adaptation of “Faith,” the first prominent plus-sized female superhero to grace the pages of Valiant Comics. Image provided

Sony Pictures has ordered a live-action adaptation of “Faith,” the first prominent plus-sized female superhero to grace the pages of Valiant Comics. Courtesy image

Have faith, female fans: It looks like Hollywood is finally embracing a comic-book heroine who doesn’t look like a voluptuous stick woman.

According to Slash Film, Sony Pictures has ordered a live-action adaptation of “Faith,” the first prominent plus-sized female superhero to grace the pages of Valiant Comics.

Valiant Comics first introduced Faith Herbert, aka Zephyr, in “Harbinger #1” back in 1992. The character soared to prominence in 2016 when the comic company gave her an ongoing monthly series. Faith went on to be named one of the best comics of that year by Nerdist, Vox, Uproxx, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Faith can fly and has telekinesis. She’s also been known to use her powers for shielding, ramming, and manipulating mechanisms and people.

Slash Film’s Ethan Anderton reports that, happily, Faith is treated just like any superhero in the comic book, not singled out for not having the traditional tiny waist surrounded by a burgeoning bosom and backside. Her name comes from her tendency to stay optimistic and upbeat even when faced with the most challenging obstacles, and if the success of last year’s “Wonder Woman” movie is an indication, people are really ready in these contentious times for a superhero story with a positive vibe.

“American Gods” adapter Maria Melnik has been tapped to write the superhero movie, which will be produced by Neal Moritz and Dan Mintz, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

According to Slash Film, “Faith” isn’t the only Valiant Comics movie in the works; rather, the femme-centric film joins the ranks of titles like “Bloodshot,” “Archer & Armstrong” and “Harbinger.”

There’s a chance we might see Faith on the big screen before she gets her own solo movie. Oscar-nominated screenwriter Eric Heisserer, who penned the woman-focused script for “Arrival,” seemed to indicate to Slash Film last year that Faith might pop up in the developing “Harbinger” film before she gets her own movie.

“From ‘Harbinger,’ Faith is such a remarkable and fresh character. I had such fun writing her. If I ever felt a little inundated or overwhelmed by the work I had to do on ‘Harbinger,’ I’d just pick up an issue of Jody Houser’s ‘Faith’ title and I’d read some pages and get excited again,” Heisserer told Slash Film last year.

Whenever she flies onto the cinematic scene, Faith is sure to be welcome presence on movie screens, especially for those of us tired of seeing the same old male-gaze depictions of superheroic women in slinky catsuits.

Director Deborah Chow and star Krysten Ritter appear on the set of of the second season of "Jessica Jones." Netflix photo

Director Deborah Chow and star Krysten Ritter appear on the set of of the second season of “Jessica Jones.” Netflix photo

Krysten Ritter to make directorial debut with ‘Jessica Jones’ Season 3

Speaking of superheroes, “Jessica Jones” star Krysten Ritter will make her directorial debut on a Season 3 episode of the Marvel Netflix series.

According to Deadline Hollywood, the third season of “Jessica Jones” recently began filming in New York City. Ritter stars as title character, a superpowered New York City private eye.

Details about the episode she’ll be directing are being kept a closely guarded secret. A premiere date for Season 3 has not yet been announced.

Ritter has played Jessica Jones since the series launch in 2015 and also appeared as the character in Marvel’s “The Defenders” crossover in 2017. The first season of “Jessica Jones” earned a Peabody Award for achievement in television entertainment.

The second season — which dropped on March 8, International Women’s Day – had Jones trying to unpack her complicated past and equally fraught present.

“I am beyond thrilled to make my directorial debut on Marvel’s ‘Jessica Jones,’” said Ritter. “The entire crew and cast has become family to me, and I’m so appreciative of the opportunity to work with our incredible team in this new way. I am so grateful that Melissa Rosenberg, Jeph Loeb, Marvel, and Netflix entrusted me to take the reins.”

Along with Ritter, the cast also includes Rachael Taylor as Trish Walker, Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri Hogarth and Eka Darville as Malcolm Ducasse. “Jessica Jones” creator Melissa Rosenberg returns as showrunner for the third season.

Oklahoma native Olivia Munn appears in the HBO series "The Newsroom." Munn has been asked to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. HBO photo

Oklahoma native Olivia Munn appears in the HBO series “The Newsroom.” Munn has been asked to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. HBO photo

Academy adding record number of members – and boosting percentage of women members

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has invited a record number of new members into its ranks, extending invites to 928 people.

According to Variety, the Academy topped last year’s record of 774 new members. It invited 683 members in 2016 and 322 in 2015, which were also record numbers.

The expansion of Academy membership to more than 9,200 stems from an ongoing effort to diversify its ranks following the uproar over the lack of African-American nominees in 2015 and 2016, which led to 2016’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Two weeks after the widely criticized nominations were announced, the Academy announced a goal to double the number of women and diverse members by 2020.

If all the 2018 invitees accept, the overall Academy membership would number 9,226.

The new class of invited members is 49 percent female, boosting the total representation of women from 28 percent in 2017 to 31 percent this year, according to Variety.

In addition, Monday’s invitations, if accepted, will result in 38 percent of the Oscars’ governing body’s new class being comprised of people of color. That will increase their representation from 13 percent in 2017 to 16 percent.

Actors make up about 20 percent of the Academy’s membership and represent its largest branch. The new members come from 59 different countries, and big-name stars on the list include Mindy Kaling, Tiffany Haddish, Kumail Nanjiani, Blake Lively, Amy Schumer, Daniel Kaluuya, Dave Chappelle, Miles Teller, Randall Park, Daisy Ridley, Timothee Chalamet, Hong Chau, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Blake Lively, Regina Hall, Rashida Jones, Lily James, Lily Collins, Chloe Grace Moretz, Olivia Munn, Kal Penn, Pedro Pascal, Amber Tamblyn, Damon Wayans, Gina Rodriguez, Sarah Silverman, Jada Pinkett Smith, Evan Rachel Wood, and Amandla Stenberg.

Writers invited to join include J.K. Rowling, Emily V. Gordon, Jonathan Nolan, Joe Robert Cole and Virgil Williams, while Kendrick Lamar, Melissa Etheridge, Sufjan Stevens and Questlove are some of the invited musicians.

Among the directors given the chance to join are Angela Robinson (“Professor Marston and the Wonder Women”), Justin Simien (“Dear White People”) and Sean Baker (“The Florida Project”). International filmmakers include Luca Guadagnino, Andy Muschietti, Chloe Zhao, Nadine Labaki, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Ziad Doueiri, and Michel Gondry.

Producers include J. Miles Dale, who won the Best Picture Oscar in March with Guillermo del Toro for “The Shape of Water,” “Get Out” producer Sean McKittrick, and Nichole Rocklin, who won a Best Picture Oscar for “Spotlight.” Executives selected include Tony Vinciquerra, Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman, and Diane Nelson, who recently stepped down as president of DC Entertainment.

The new members range in age from actress Quvenzhane Wallis (the youngest new member at age 14) to composer Sofia Gubaidulina (the oldest new member at age 86). Of them, 17 are Oscar winners and 92 are nominees.

To see the full list of invited members, courtesy of Variety, click here.

-BAM

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