We've scoured the UK to find the most inspirational innovators for Marie Claire's Women At The Top Awards, in association with Windows 10 and Freixenet. Meet Destiny Ekaragha, Freixenet Woman At The Top and one of the ten game-changers who have shaped 2015.
After starting out as a production runner, Destiny Ekaragha, 33, is transforming the British film industry from behind the camera. The winner of a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit Award, she made waves in 2013 when her film, Gone Too Far, was rolled out in cinemas, and she promptly became only the third black female director to have released a feature-length film in the UK. Her success hit the mainstream this year, when she was asked by Lenny Henry to direct his autobiographical TV film, Danny And The Human Zoo.
‘When I heard I was only the third British black female director to release a feature-length film, I felt happy, and then I felt sad. I’m very proud of my success, but the film industry has been around for nearly 100 years. It just isn’t right that only two other black women have had this opportunity. Thankfully, it feels like things are changing – I might only be the third, but I won’t be the last.’
‘Lenny Henry approached me to direct his film. He’d seen my work, and said he wanted to interview me immediately – which would have been great, had I not just got on a flight to Nigeria! He wasn’t put off though, and interviewed me on the phone. Thankfully, I made him laugh.’
‘I couldn’t believe it when Danny And The Human Zoo broke Twitter. When it debuted, we were the second biggest trending topic – just behind Kanye West.’
‘Nobody is sexist to your face in this industry. It’s more subtle than that. You might start your career at the same time as a man your age, and your accolades might be the same, yet their career trajectory is so different. A friend of mine was up to direct an action movie, but the film company was like, ‘But can she direct action?’ – then they gave it to a man.’
‘You can’t make films for anybody else. You have to make them for yourself. I got to where I am today either because my ideas corresponded with other people’s, or because I was persistent. And I’m very lucky to have worked with incredible crews and producers who trust me.’
‘Things are better in Hollywood, but I’ll never leave the UK. No matter how hard things are as a black female director, they’re worse for black female actors, so I have to stay put. We’re only going to see balance on our screens if we balance out behind the scenes first.’