More: Since you were one of the few women to run a studio, and this question keeps coming up, I’ll ask you: Why are there still so few female directors?
N.J.: I’ve asked myself and I’m not sure I have a good answer. You’re not imagining it, but obviously part of it is it’s a tough time to get movies made and many getting made are with people who are the usual suspects. It’s a small club reappearing. There’s not a whole lot of new blood because it is musical chairs, and there are fewer chairs than players. But I’m not sure why there are so few women directing. Cathy Bigelow is the shout out but there aren’t a whole lot of others. When you look at the balance of things, it’s not encouraging.
More: One reason that has been suggested to me—by women, actually—is that it’s such an intense job, demanding so much time away from home, and women with children don’t want to do that.
N.J.: It is all-consuming and the amount of time you have to spend away from home makes it hard for a woman with children. But biology as destiny doesn’t seem the answer.
More: I read that you were fired by Disney when you were in the delivery room.
N.J.: My partner was delivering our third child. I don’t think this was a big plan of theirs, but the news broke in the press right at the time. When I called to find out if the rumbling was true, I was fired when my partner was in labor. Luckily, I’d had two babies and not been fired.
More: What was your reaction?
N.J.: Surprise. But I was able to keep it in perspective because of the birth of a child, which is much more important
More: What would you tell your 20-years-younger self?
N.J.: “Good news! Some day you will get to wear jeans to the office again!” If I could give my power suit self that news, it would be a great comfort to me. Also, and I guess I will sound corny, but no matter what you see or experience, kindness is not weakness. I think I’ve been able to survive a tumultuous business by trying to treat people with kindness, compassion and respect. I think it does matter and it does pay off in every day life as well as over the long haul. So I’d tell my younger self that it’s not naïve to think that those things actually matter, and they will pay off in the long term. I got fired from my first two jobs in the movie business in the first 18 months, so you can question if you’re cut out for the movie business if you’re not an animal. I would tell my younger self that you don’t have to be an animal.
To read MORE about women behind the scenes in showbusiness, check out our interview with Smash creator Teresa Rebeck.
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