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By Juliet Penna, Assistant Editor - Content Operations

Millennial women in the entertainment industry are working hard -- and not just for the money.

These millennials are not simply crossing borders, they are ignoring them. Gender, genre, and career labels are irrelevant to today's women, who are creating the art they want, and finding varied ways to reach audiences.

Everyone is aware of Lena Dunham, creator and one of the stars of HBO’s “Girls.” Some people know about the earlier pioneers of this trend: screenwriter and actress Rashida Jones, known for her roles on sitcoms “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office”; and Carrie Brownstein, the co-writer and actor on “Portlandia,” who is recently reviving her band, Sleater-Kinney. But there are many more ambitious and talented women creating names for themselves in different sectors:

--Misty Copeland became the first African-American soloist at the American Ballet Theatre in two decades, and she's used that distinction to become an ambassador for ballet. She has starred in ads for Under Armour, debuted as a guest judge on "So You Think You Can Dance," and published a memoir that's now being adapted into a feature film. She is also on the advisory committee of ABT’s Project Plie diversity initiative.
Singer-songwriter Janelle Monae has entered into a partnership with Epic Records for her Atlanta-based independent record label Wondaland. Her roster includes artists who “hew a bass-heavy fusion of R&B and hip-hop.”
--Singer and model Viktoria Modesta is being championed by UK Channel 4 as the world’s first amputee pop artist. Her music video for her song “Prototype” celebrates her physical difference.  She made the decision to lose her injured lower leg at the age of 15, resulting in “building an identity that I was more comfortable with, as opposed to one that was given to me.”
--Technology in the film industry has exploded the independent production sector. Writer-director-actor Desiree Akhavan wrote, directed, and starred in “Appropriate Behavior.” Her film, which overlaps aspects of her own life as a bisexual Iranian-American artist, is part of the trend of “smart and funny stories by and about young women.”
--Lena Waithe is one of the producers on “Dear White People,” and is releasing her pilot project, “Twenties,” online. “Dear White People” was nominated for Best First Feature for the 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards.
--Two women making their way in a field still dominated primarily by men are Indian magician/illusionist Maneka Sorcar and actor/comedian Jessica Williams. Sorcar performs 150 to 200 shows a year. She also has an MBA from Ohio University in order to manage the business side of things. Williams is the youngest woman ever to become a senior correspondent on “The Daily Show.”

Women who have grown up in the digital age naturally find the internet a fertile ground for their art and voice:

--Comedian, video blogger, actress, and graphic designer Franchesca Ramsey won $35,000 in YouTube NextUp contest.
--Issae Rae, the creator of Web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” has released her eponymous memoir, which made the New York Times Bestseller list. HBO has ordered a pilot of her show “Insecure,” and she is also working on a screenplay.
--Hannah Hart is best known for her weekly YouTube series, “My Drunk Kitchen.” She has also written a parody cook book based on her series and performed as part of a comedy show, “#NoFilter Show.”

Women are telling their own stories, growing careers from their own communities, and making places and platforms for themselves, without waiting for anyone to show them how. Find out about exciting young women in other sectors in ProQuest. Learn more about ProQuest Arts and Literature collections.

Librarians: Sign up for free trials during Women’s History Month.

Are you headed to the 2015 ARLIS/NA 43rd Annual Conference, March 19-23, in Fort Worth, Texas? Be sure to stop by the ProQuest booth (#40)!



1. International Index of Performing Arts, Muteba, Bertha, “Rashida Jones: Actor,” Biography, Volume 74, Issue 8, August 2013, pp. 54-59
2. International Index of Music Periodicals, Wolk, Douglas, “Portlandia’s Best-Kept Secret,” Billboard, Volume 127, Isu 2, pp. 27-28.
3. IIPA, “Dance Magazine Awards 2014,” Dance Magazine, Volume 88, Issue 12, 2014, p. 40
4. IIMP,  Aswad, Jem, “Janelle Monae as Mini Mogul,” Billboard, February 21, 2015, Volume 127, Issue 5, p. 10
5. Saner, Emine, “Saturday: Into the mainstream, out on a limb,” The Guardian, December 20, 2014, p. 30
6. Freeman, Hadley, “G2: Film & Music: Sex and the City,” The Guardian, March 6, 2015, p. 6
7. IIPA, “Beach Blanket Bingo,” Back Stage – National Edition, Volume 56, Issue 5, January 29, 2015, p. 22
8. Banerjee, Malini, “Sorcar Raj,” India Today, January 20, 2014, p. n/a
9, McDonald, Soraya Nadia, “’Insecure at Last: With a television pilot and a memoir, ‘Awkward Black Girl’ Issae Rae finds new success,” Washington Post – Blogs, February 26, 2015, p. n/a
10. Taylor, Daphne, “YouTube creations win $35,000 for aspiring actress,” South Florida Times, Volume 22, Issue 27, p. 1A

19 Mar 2015

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