‘The world of film is foul when it comes to the treatment of women’: One actress shares how she took back the power

I’ve had agents take me on and then drop me because I wouldn’t go to their house for drinks or be their girlfriend.’

From the Editors of InStyle UK 
Words by Chloe Mac Donnell 

‘I’ve had agents take me on and then drop me because I wouldn’t go to their house for drinks or be their girlfriend.’ Actress-turned-filmmaker Samantha Michelle is talking about her experience of Hollywood.

‘I come from a loving family and had a 3.9A f**king grade point average from NYU and Oxford. But I still found myself in situations where I was entertaining these disgusting propositions, because the film industry is so competitive.’

It’s this notion of ‘the boys’ club’ that Michelle explores in her first short film The Dark Side Of The Sun. ‘I wanted to start a discourse about sexploitation on the casting couch, but this time with gender role reversal. The world of film is foul when it comes to the treatment of women.’

Starring Jack Fox, it made its debut at Cannes in 2016. Encouraged by positive reviews, Michelle is now in the process of writing and turning it into a feature-length movie. When it comes to saying no to sexploitation, Michelle doesn’t think the perpetrators were that shocked. ‘It was more like, “OK, next!”’ You’re a dime a dozen.’ As well as the casting treatment, the type of roles available to women is also frustrating for Michelle.

‘We live in a culture where females are supposed to be Bond girls – sexy, violent, glamorous and slightly in the background at the wills and whims of men. The content created promotes that type of myth.’ In order to change this, Michelle thinks the best approach is a different type of content creation.

‘You need to work with the system in order to change it. My film doesn’t seem like a didactic piece of cinema – it’s entertaining, but at the same time it evokes questions rather than communicating one singular message.’

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