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Your lifestyle, your quirk
I have a confession to make. I’m into Wigs. And I’m not the only one – so are some big-name female stars like Jennifer Garner, Julia Stiles, America Ferrera, and Dakota Fanning. No, I’m not talking about the synthetic stuff you slap on your head and pretend is your own; I’m talking about an awesome new YouTube channel.
Wigs developed out of a desire for a working environment for actresses free of the sexism and ageism that is rampant in Hollywood against females. Many well-known actresses have experienced the sometimes ridiculous and often offensive sexism involved in Hollywood filmmaking.
Caitlin Gerard, of The Social Network, said she was happy to come to Wigs after having a face-off with a director who told her to make her role as “a young nerdy girl” more sexy. Gerard inquired what age group she was supposed to be creating sex appeal for, and was told, "For the 10 to 13-year-old girls." What?!
Actress Jennifer Beals from The L Word also shared an anecdote of what led her to decide to star in a series on Wigs. She said she made some small suggestions to a male director on a shoot for a Hollywood studio production and received only criticism and sexist remarks in return.
"I said to the director, is this going to cut together with my coverage? And they said back to me, 'Wow don't you worry your pretty little head about that.' And I said, go f***yourself,'" Beals said.
Ironically, Wigs will be run by two men, Jon Avnet, producer of Black Swan, and Rodrigo Garcia, creator of In Treatment. These men, however, are clearly on the females’ side.
"It is really appalling the way that female characters and the actresses playing them are subjected to the many layers of approval of how hair should look," Garcia says. "It's things like whether you should and must wear heels while you're gunning down people in an alley. It's really a relentless judgment that's passed about how a woman should look."
Garcia added that the Hollywood producers are always asking, “'Is she likable enough? Can we make her more likable?' That's the kind of scrutiny and judgment that the system puts on female characters."
Clearly, actresses are fed up and ready to seek out new avenues to practice their art. Although Wigs and YouTube won’t disclose any financial information involved in the channel, the actresses involved will happily admit their salaries are significantly smaller than they would be on a Hollywood film – and they don’t seem to mind one bit. A lot can be said for being treated fairly, intelligently, and being given some creative freedom.
The shows on Wigs portray their female leads in strong positions and unique positions. For example, Beals is a tough solider at war; actress Virginia Madsen (of Sideways and A Prairie Home Companion) plays a high-profile photographer; and Julia Stiles is an exceptionally intelligent prostitute who helps her son with advanced physics homework.
"When it comes to the characters women are portraying on screen, it has improved, but there's a lot of room for more," Avnet said. "Not only are we looking at actresses, we're looking at female writers and directors too."
Although actresses are welcomed and encouraged to give Wigs a try, it’s not as though once they go Wigs they can never go back. "You can go back," Beals said. "But you go back with a stronger voice, and you say what you really think. And you say, well Jon Avnet would let me do this. It's really empowering."