The Changing Role of Women in the Entertainment and Media Industry

When we say the role of women is rapidly changing in the world, it is also broadly applicable to Hollywood and New York, the top revenue-making entertainment industry of the world. It’s not just limited to the actresses, but we have seen women making their presence known in all specialized avenues of this thriving industry. Women today are appointed as executives, deal-makers, top officials, reps, producers, show runners, and more.

In this article, we will look at a few of the most influential women in Hollywood of the past decade. However, this is not a rank list, but a humble effort to introduce you to a few that deserves to be known while including a few that require no introduction. We have chosen these nine women because of the way they stepped steadily to reach the top of their career by keeping their ethical and social values.

Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBC Universal’s Cable Entertainment Group.

As Chairman of NBCUniversal Cable, Hammer oversees the leading cable brands USA, The Sci-Fi Channel, E!, Bravo, Oxygen, Esquire Network, Sprout, TV One, Chiller, Cloo, and Universal HD, as well as production entities Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios.Even though, Bonnie resides in Westport, Connecticut and works in Manhattan, as Chairman of NBC Universal’s Cable Entertainment Group, she is the ultimate power woman in the E&M industry. Hammer, a striking woman in her mid-60s, leads her networks with great panache, which account for over half of NBCUniversal’s revenues, it can be watched by more than 129 million viewers a week. Three years in a row, Hammer has made Forbe’s list of most “Powerful Women”, and she has been  called “the most powerful woman in cable television”.


#2 Oprah Winfrey – CEO, Oprah Winfrey Network


Those who know Oprah’s contributions will surely agree with the fact that she is called a living legend. Through her work, she has been able to touch the lives of millions of people around the world. From starting her career as Nashville’s first Afro-American TV correspondent back in 1973 to being the CEO of Oprah Winfrey Network from 2011 to date, Oprah’s life is a motivational story to any success-seeking woman.


Setting forth a sterling example of honest leadership, Oprah has now become the ‘go-to source’ of practical wisdom. Oprah had her film debut in Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Color Purple (1985), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. Accelerating entrepreneurs, career entertainers, and educators across the globe, Oprah has surely made an impact on the society for a greater good of humanity.


#3 Shonda Rhimes – TV showrunner, creator, executive producer, head writer


Even if you are not familiar with the name, you are for sure with her work. Shonda Rhimes is responsible for many of the top-rated television dramas of the last decade including Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, , How to Get Away with Murder, and the latest The Catch, which started to air in March 2016.


Critics identify Rhimes as an incredibly prolific individual. She has also directed many short films before taking up the producer’s role. Creating many feminist-leaning characters such as Cristina Yang in Grey’s Anatomy, and the bold Olivia Pope on Scandal, she contributed to giving a unique identity to women on screen. Diversity the key element in her work, and Rhimes is tirelessly working to make it amongst the most influential women of the decade in media industry.


#4 Bela Bajaria – President, Universal Television


Bela Bajaria has had a solid presence in the media industry for a long time now, and she was recently promoted to the role of President of the Chief Production company of NBCUniversal. Bajaria has about 24 shows on the broadcast schedule, which consists of 11 most popular freshman series.


The notable releases of Bajaria that had achieved tremendous off-network sales include Unbreakable and Master of None on Netflix, and The Path on Hulu, etc. After Fox had denied The Mindy Project its third season, it was Bajaria that found a home for the series on Hulu. Her studio also facilitated the Chicago franchise that is currently broadcast on NBC.


#5 Gina Balian and Nicole Clemens – Executive VPs, FX Networks


This duo earned into their VP executive positions back in the last quarter of 2015. After joining FX Networks back in 2012, they were responsible for creating originals series for the company. Clemens holds a successful career track record:  The Strain, Man Seeking Woman, Tyrant and You’re the Worst, all of which are listed to return for an additional season. She had also played a vital role in launching Better Things and Atlanta.


Balian did Fargo, the Emmy-winning anthology, which had drawn waves to jump into its second run now. She had also done the Nina Jacobson’s American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, which started airing from February. She’s now involved in the making of X-Men drama pilot called Legion, featuring Fargo’s Noah Hawley.


#6 Sarah Barnett – President, BBC America

Just after Sarah Barnett took over 50 percent stakes in BBC America, the AMC Networks assigned her to take care of the network that hosts fan favorite shows such as Doctor Who and Orphan Black. Taking up this challenge, Barnett transformed the cable network itself by ordering Undercover from Peter Moffat and the mystery thriller called Thirteen from Marnie Dickens.


Currently, she is handling six new projects which are in development phase, including Dirk Gently from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the Chronicle’s Max Landis.


#7 Lorrie Bartlett – Partner and Talent Co-Head, ICM Partners

It was Lorrie Bartlett who guided Regina King to grab her first Emmy for American Crime of ABC. She has helped the burgeoning director earn episodic gigs on shows such as The Catch and Scandal. She was also responsible for getting HBO’s The Leftovers in for a second season. Her other contributions include placing actor Rodrigo Santoro in 5 movies including the Ben-Hur remake; Jane Got a Gun and so on.


#8 Frances Berwick – President, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Lifestyle Networks

In her latest role as the chief, Frances Berwick has significantly raised her cable portfolio. Now she oversees the entire lifestyle networks of NBCUniversal. Berwick is a London-born, New York settled successful top executive, and is also the mother of one. While on one hand, she is a successful professional, on the other, she is a loving wife and nurturing mother. Her successful track record includes pushing the No. 9 on cable net Bravo on top with the scripted Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce and the Odd Mom Out. She was also behind the cable’s most watched un-scripted launch of last year: I Am Cait, the Caitlyn Jenner series that was aired on E!.


#9 Kristine Belson – President of Sony Pictures Animation


After spending a decade at DreamWorks Animation, and producing the company’s all-time hit The Croods, when Kristine Belson finally joined Sony, she called the process “transitional”. One of her most noted goals after joining Sony was to build up the production at the company. She recently stated that they are slowly progressing toward their goal, and creating opportunities for talents around the world. One of her success stories includes Hotel Transylvania 2 that earned $437 million worldwide. She is also planning for a Smurfs reboot that is expected to release in 2017.


There are many other women who are making a different everyday with their contribution to the entertainment and media industry of Hollywood. If asked to mention a few more such names for you to search for, the list goes as — Michelle Bohan, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Dawn Hudson, Bernardine Brandis, Barbara Broccoli, Mara Brock Akil, Ilene Chaiken, Taraji P. Henson, Megan Colligan, Melanie Cook, Maha Dakhil, Ann Daly, Mireille Soria, Julie Darmody, Ellen DeGeneres, Marie Donoghue, Nancy Dubuc, Lena Dunham, Jenni Konner, Ava DuVernay, Megan Ellison to name a few.

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