DuVernay and Jenks get Funko Pops, per AWFJ’s Suggestion! Yes!!! – Jennifer Merin reports

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Back in 2018, inspired by the movie memorabilia displayed and sold at that year’s ComicCon, AWFJ member Leslie Combemale wrote From Comic-Con: #FemaleFilmmakerFunko for #FemaleFilmmakerFriday, an essay for AWFJ.org, suggesting (demanding, really) that movie memorabilia manufacturer Funko include female film directors in it’s popular series of collectible filmmaker Pops, which was initiated in 2016 with a Paul Feig figurine, and then expanded to include Alfred Hitchcock, Guillermo del Toro, J.J. Abrams, and four others (or five, if you count producer Jason Blum) male directors with near cult status among film fans.

“We’ve noticed that Funko is a movies merchandising company that stays way ahead of the curve, and might be just the perfectly fearless innovator to acknowledge that women — yes, women — do buy toys, and that girls — yes, girls — want to see themselves represented in collectibles such as your figures, right along side directors like Waititi and Del Toro,” wrote Combemale. “I bet if you ask Waititi and Del Toro, both of whom champion women in film and support diversity and inclusion, they’d agree that this is a perfect opportunity for Funko to include female figures in your line up.”

To illustrate her article, Combemale designed prototype Pops for Ava DuVernay, Agnes Varda, Catherine Hardwicke and Patty Jenkins, the four favorite female film directors at the top of her personal wish list.

Combemale’s Ava, Catherine, Agnes and Patty Pops

AWFJ tagged Funko in the article and on social media, challenging the company to meet demands for collectible female film director Pops. Two years later, Funko has met the challenge by releasing the Ava DuVernay Pop in March, followed by the Patty Jenkins Pop in April — with good lead time for the (now canceled) 2020 ComicCon.

While there’s no way to know just how much, if any, Funko’s creation and release of new female film director Pops were instigated or influenced by Combemale and/or AWFJ.org, the article was recently referenced and Combemale was quoted in Robert Ito’s New York Times piece about Funko’s release of new Female Filmmaker Pops.

To date, there’s been no indication whether Agnes Varda and Catherine Hardwicke — or any of the many accomplished female film directors worthy of a Pop — are scheduled for premieres, but thanks, Funko — it’s great to see that the powers-that-be in the pop culture collectibles community are committing to representation of female filmmakers. And please put Agnes Varda and Catherine Hardwicke on your list.

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).