THE WEEK IN WOMEN news roundup: ‘Girls Trip’ breaks records, Patty Jenkins hopes ‘Wonder Woman’ leads to opportunities, Geena Davis talks acting and ageism and Women Texas Film Festival names winners

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Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and Tiffany Haddish star in the hit comedy "Girls Trip." Universal Pictures photo

Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and Tiffany Haddish star in the hit comedy “Girls Trip.” Universal Pictures photo

The hit comedy “Girls Trip” – starring Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish as four black women who travel to New Orleans to attend the Essence Festival – has crossed the $100 million mark at the box office and broken a couple of records in the process.

Released in July, “Girls Trip” has become the first film with an all-black creative team in front of and behind the camera to earn $100 million at the box office, according to The New York Times.

As an added bonus for Tracy Oliver (“Barbershop: The Next Cut”), it’s also the first time a female African-American writer has ever reached that milestone.

“I could not believe it, I basically went online and tried to fact-check it myself because I was like, ‘That cannot be true,’” she said.

“What I realized is that this represented an issue that still needs to be fixed because there are movies like ‘Hidden Figures,’ for example, that have black women in lead roles that have grossed over $100 million but when you look into them further, most of the time they’re not written by black people at all. That’s something producers and studios need to take a harder look into and start reaching out to people of color more often.”

“I hope that it translates into more opportunities. Personally I’ve seen my opportunities increase and all of the opportunities that I’m interested in are about black women,” Oliver added. “As far as the industry at large, if there’s been an uptick or increase in opportunities, I can’t speak to that. I hope that it’s not a Halle Berry situation, where it takes another decade or so before you see any kind of increase again.

Her co-writer, Kenya Barris (“Black-ish”), said he has been encouraged by the comedy’s overseas success.

“It opens up the possibility for what it means to be a person of color in this industry, a woman, all at the same time,” Barris told the NYT. “The thing that is most interesting to me is what it is doing for the international box office. Traditionally we have been told that our movies don’t do well overseas. That is one of the biggest obstacles to making movies with people of color and I’m actually seeing that this movie is having some steam overseas.”

Director Patty Jenkins, left, and star Gal Gadot appear on the set of "Wonder Woman." Warner Bros. photo

Director Patty Jenkins, left, and star Gal Gadot appear on the set of “Wonder Woman.” Warner Bros. photo

Patty Jenkins hopes ‘Wonder Woman’s’ success leads to more opportunities

Likewise, Patty Jenkins, who directed another of the few hits at the summer box office with “Wonder Woman,” hopes the superhero movie’s record-setting success will lead to more job openings for women, even beyond the film industry, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“I hope the success of the film will lead to change and lead to other people getting opportunities,” Jenkins told reporters last week during a conference call ahead of the film’s home entertainment release. “I hope women become a diverse, easy hire for all sorts of jobs in the future.”

When Wonder Woman surpassed $100 million at the domestic box office in its first week, Jenkins said, “It sort of defied expectations.” As the film continues to dominate — surpassing $400 million at the domestic box office and passing other superhero hits like Iron Man, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad — it “exceeded all of the projections, although not our own hopes,” she said.

As previously reported, “Wonder Woman” was released digitally Tuesday, and it’s coming to Blu-ray Sept. 19. A sequel is set for theatrical release on Dec. 13, 2019.

Geena Davis stars in the indie film "Marjorie Prime." FilmRise photo

Geena Davis stars in the indie film “Marjorie Prime.” FilmRise photo

‘Marjorie Prime’ star Geena Davis talks about acting and ageism in the movies

Activist and Oscar winner Geena Davis is making a rare return to cinema screens in the introspective indie film “Marjorie Prime.”

In the near-future science-fiction story, Davis plays Tess, a woman whose mother, Marjorie (Lois Smith, “The Nice Guys”) is grappling with dementia. To combat the loss, Tess secures a “prime”—a hologram of Marjorie’s deceased husband, Walter (Jon Hamm). Equipped with artificial intelligence, the hologram of Walter in his younger years can take on new information and synthesize real conversations and recollections.

Especially since Davis’ mother suffered from Alzheimer’s,” “I just found it fascinating,” she told Elle.

“The topic of memory—how we remember things and losing memories, and all that—I thought that was fascinating. And very emotional. It’s a very valuable topic to explore. I don’t generally have a problem with taking [a project] home with me, but it certainly caused me to think about my own life maybe more than any other movies I’ve done.”

She told Elle the role felt emotionally rich and marked an uncommon opportunity in film. Like fellow Oscar winners like Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange, Davis has turned to TV in recent years to find more dynamic roles. Davis said filmgoers can infer the quality of roles she’s offered by how many movies she appears in.

“You’d see me in them if I got them,” Davis said. “I’ve been very fortunate and I’ve had some incredible parts. And for a while there, I felt like I was sucking up all the good female parts, getting to do some really special and unusual things. But it’s true what they say: Parts get fewer and less good the older you get, particularly for women.”

“I haven’t run out of money, so I haven’t had to take parts I didn’t like or feel were challenging in some way,” she added. “I still hold out for those, but they get fewer and farther between.”

Her own experiences in the industry in part motivated her founding the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media, which researches unconscious gender bias in children’s media, and the Bentonville Film Festival, which highlights diversity in film on both sides of the camera.

“Really what I’m focused on is portrayals of females in media made for kids under 11,” Davis said. “Once I had a daughter and I realized what was going on it was like, ‘We’re training kids, unwittingly, to have unconscious gender bias from the beginning.’ We’re showing them these worlds that are nearly bereft of female presence. Even if there’s a female lead, often the fictitious universe being created has very few female characters, who do very little. We have to fix this.”

Davis’ work has heightened her awareness about the pervasive sexism in Hollywood and the world.

“It’s just there,” she said of sexism in Hollywood. “The more time goes by, the more I look back on situations and realize, ‘Why didn’t I notice that?’ In the past I’ve said in interviews, ‘I never personally experienced it.’ And after thinking about it for a long time—what was I talking about? You train yourself not to notice or to kind of accept it without saying, ‘Okay, that goes on. But why does it and why do I have to put up with it?’ Women are taught so much to go along, to not complain, and that people should like you.”

But these days, she said women should “instead, say what you observe and feel.”

Doug Purdy and Brooke Purdy in "Quality Problems." Metamorfic Productions LLC photo

Doug Purdy and Brooke Purdy in “Quality Problems.” Metamorfic Productions LLC photo

Women Texas Film Festival announces award winners

The Dallas-based Women Texas Film Festival, presented by Studio Movie Grill, announced the award winners for the second edition of the film festival during an Aug. 20 awards brunch, where Brooke and Doug Purdy’s “Quality Problems” took home the award for Best Feature Film.

Maja Aro’s “Hoods” received the nod as Best Short Film, and Siena Pinney, the director of the short film “Possibility,” was honored as this year’s Filmmaker to Watch, according to a news release.

Winners were determined by board and the Artistic Director of WTxFF, billed as the first and only full-fledged film festival in the state of Texas to celebrate and promote the work of women behind the camera (producers, directors, screenwriter, editors, composers, and cinematographers).

“Our awards presentation this year was the culmination of a particularly emotional and affecting edition of WTxFF. Our narrative features, our documentary features, as well as several short films touched the audiences with gripping and personal stories. We had many in the audience share their feelings about seeing their lives on the big screen, some for the first time,” said Women Texas Film Festival Founder and Artistic Director Justina Walford in a statement.

The second annual Women Texas Film Festival started Aug. 16 an opening night screening of Savannah Bloch’s award-winning film “And Then There Was Eve,” which was enthusiastically received by a sold-out house that included several appreciative transgender women in the audience.

Other festival highlights included an appearance by Texas State Congresswoman Victoria Neave, who participated in the Q&A following a screening of Trish Adlesic and Geeta Gandbhir’s documentary “I Am Evidence,” about the crisis of unprocessed rape kits throughout the nation, and the screening of Signe Taylor’s documentary “It’s Criminal: A Tale of Two Americas,” about a special Dartmouth College program that brings students together with incarcerated women. Following a news appearance by Taylor and documentary subject Charlotte Gunderson, a representative for a Dallas-based organization that works on placing recently released female parolees in jobs contacted WTxFF, which resulted in the film festival treating more than 30 women and their family members to the screening.

The festival wound up with a full-house closing night screening of “Quality Problems,” with co-director/writer/star Brooke Purdy on hand along with producer and cast member Colette Freedman to discuss the film, about a woman and her family dealing with a recurrence of her breast cancer at the same time her father is experiencing the downside of his Alzheimer’s, and the pressure of throwing a birthday party for their 8-year-old daughter. Then, as required by the unspoken law of film festivals

For more information on the Women Texas Film festival, go to


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