NYWIFT Community Engagement Coordinator Katie Chambers was interviewed by Kala Jerzy of Fanm Kanson on March 2, 2017 about her work with the organization:
Continuing the American Cultural Conversation about Women’s Equality: Katie Chambers on Women in Film & Television
Katie Chambers is the Community Engagement Coordinator for New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT), where she manages both Communications and Membership. She connects, educates, and empowers women in TV, film and digital media. Fighting women’s inequality is NYWIFT’s mission, where Katie helps providing training and professional development opportunities in the entertainment industry.
FK: What sparked your engagement with New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) as Community Engagement Coordinator?
|Katie Chambers (photo: JKP Photography)|
Katie Chambers: I first became involved in the organization as a guest speaker– while I was a talent agent, I was asked to speak on a NYWIFT panel about how to get your kids into film and television. I had worked with casting director Destiny Lilly, who is on the NYWIFT Board, and she thought of me for the panel. I became a NYWIFT member shortly after that. Just as I was looking to move into a career that allowed me more creativity and the chance to make a real difference – not to mention a stronger leadership position – NYWIFT created this new dual-department head position and the stars aligned. It’s all a testament to the power of networking, which ironically, or not so ironically, is a key part of what I do for our members at work every day.
FK: Did you always know you wanted to do this?
My entire career has been shaped around supporting and connecting artists. From my first job interning for producer Scott Rudin, to producing independent theater, from working in Broadway company management, to assisting an agent, to then being a talent agent myself, I’ve always worked in creative environments, handling the business side, often acting as the glue holding things together. At NYWIFT, my job is two-fold: I head Membership and Communications. I’m responsible for creating membership initiatives, retaining members and developing and producing member networking parties and screenings. On the Communications side, I manage our website and social media, create marketing campaigns, design our marketing materials, and maintain our relationship with the press. I also oversee internal communications among our more than 2,100 members – I try to form a relationship with as many of them as I can, to make sure that they are taking full advantage of the many benefits NYWIFT offers them and check in to make sure our organization is serving their needs.
FK: What inspired your specific engagement with women's careers?
There is gender inequality in both pay and opportunity in most industries, but especially in TV and film, which can often feel like the old boys’ club. People in positions of power tend to hire people who remind them of themselves – so when leadership positions are dominated by white men, it turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s so inherent that I think a lot of people don’t even realize they are doing it. It’s important to point out when this is happening and encourage people in positions of power to consciously commit to hiring more women until it becomes second nature. As a woman with a career myself, having been surrounded by smart, capable women all my life, I’m naturally personally invested in making this a reality.
FK: How does storytelling from the female perspective differ from the storytelling of men, LGBT community, and minorities?
Everyone has a story to tell that is so specific to their own experience.and like I said earlier, there is something empowering about seeing someone like you on screen. And seeing someone on screen who is totally different from you can change the way you see the world. The “female perspective” is such an all-encompassing term: there can be LGBT women’s perspectives and minority women’s perspectives, and each of those “categories” can be broken down further into an almost unlimited variety of walks of life. What needs to be acknowledged is that the “women’s perspective” has just as much value and complexity as the “men’s perspective,” with infinite storytelling possibilities. And numerous studies have shown that films about women do well at the box office, so the old argument that people won’t pay to see these stories is moot.
FK: What are your plans, goals, and hopes for the future?
I feel encouraged that women’s equality has become a significant part of the American cultural conversation. I want to continue working with NYWIFT to harness that energy and use it to make real change within entertainment, which reaches so many people across the world.
FK: In one sentence, tell us why NYWIFT matters?
Our company’s mission statement says it best: NYWIFT supports women calling the shots in film, TV and digital media and energizes their careers by illuminating their achievements, providing training and professional development, and advocating for equality.
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