5 Female Directors Who Deserve to be Household Names

By: Abby Wheeler

The Performing Arts have been largely gracing my life for as long as I can remember. Music, acting, dance, and anything you could probably imagine. Most of my performing arts experience involves acting and theatre, and over the past two years I have delved further into this experience by pursuing directing.

In film and theatre from Hollywood to New York, it is very hard for women to establish themselves as directors. Throughout history producers and directors have solidified the “boys club” of the arts. Some big companies such as 20th Century Fox, Sony, Paramount, and the Weinstein Company have not released a single work directed by a woman this year. Even if you are lucky enough to establish yourself as a professional director, it is rare to become famous. On the other hand, an actor could do one movie and become a household name overnight.

This brings me to the purpose of my blog, which I hope you enjoy. Here are 5 female directors who deserve to be household names!

5. Catherine Hardwicke


photo credit: script magazine

Catherine Hardwicke was born in 1955 in Cameron, Texas, and attended the University of Texas Austin. Her directing credits are mostly in film, including; Lords of Dogtown, Red Riding Hood, Thirteen, Plush, Reckless, The Nativity Story, and of course Twilight. I’m sure most people in America could name at least one of the actors from this series that took over the world, but very few people could name the original director. She is most known for the theme of teen angst, largely exemplified in Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown, and Twilight.

4. Lear deBessonet

photo credit: ny times

Lear deBessonet was born in 1983 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She grew up seeing small pageants put on by her church, and has since been dedicated to public community projects. She aims to attract an audience that is as diverse as possible, using public venues like Central Park. With her work mostly in theatre and off-broadway, her directing credits include The Odyssey, The Winter’s Tale, Pump Boys And Dinettes, On The Levee, The Tempest, and transFigures. She is the Public Theater’s Director of Public Works, and the founder and artistic director of Stillpoint Productions (Broadwayworld, TheatricalRights, CrainsNewYork).

3. Anne Bogart

photo credit: cornish.edu

Anne Bogart is fairly well-known as a theatre and opera director. She was born in 1951, and holds a master’s degree from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.  Although her influence is very present in contemporary theatre, she has worked mostly with classical theatre. She is extremely accomplished, not only in directing but also for publishing many books. One of her most well-known books is a knowledge base of her technique called “Viewpoints”. Her training methods have greatly shaped contemporary theatre, and will continue to do so for generations.

2. Julie Taymor

photo credit: makers.com

I admit that I have some bias for this one! Julie Taymor is the director of my favorite thing ever, The Lion King on Broadway. She also hails from the great state of Massachusetts, and her birthday is one off from mine. Not to say that she doesn’t absolutely deserve this spot on the list. She was born December 15, 1952 in Boston, Massachusetts and attended Oberlin College in Ohio. She has always had an interest in world cultures and has spent a great deal of time traveling and studying them. Her directing credits are pretty even between theatre and film with credits such as; Frida, Across the Universe, Titus, Spider-Man Broadway, and of course The Lion King. Her works have been nominated for countless academy awards, winning eleven Tony awards for The Lion King alone. Not to mention, she is the first woman to win the Tony award for best director!

1. Nora Ephron

photo credit: thestar.com

If anyone deserves praise most of all, it is Nora Ephron. She was a true genius and the queen of multitasking. Every work she ever directed, she also either wrote or produced. She was born in 1941 in NYC and attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts. She has been nominated 3 times for academy awards for best writing. Her work is mostly in film with credits including; Sleepless in Seattle (Director and Screenwriter), This Is My Life (Director and Screenwriter), Mixed Nuts (Director and Screenwriter), Michael (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer), You’ve Got Mail (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer), Lucky Numbers (Director and Producer), Bewitched (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer), and Julie And Julia (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer). As you can see, her accomplishments are amazing. Unfortunately, she died in 2012 of pneumonia after battling with leukemia, but her legacy and work will live on.

All of these women are huge inspirations to me as I start out my career. I hope this has brought you new inspiration and enjoyment!

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