There is an elephant in the room

Some time ago I was invited to interview for a directing role in a well known production company. It was the dream job, I was so excited by the prospect of working at this place.

However, the interview didn't go as planned.

After two hours of an interview full with inappropriate comments and the interviewer admitting that he had worked with women in the past and - surprisingly - turned out fine.

Right before he ended the meeting, my interviewer says:

Well...There is a big elephant in the room. And I'm sorry, but I have got to ask…

You have been married for a few years, right? Do you have children? Are you planning to have any?

And there I sat…astonished to hear what was being said to me and in all honesty, struggling to process it.

So many thoughts were going through my head, and yet I couldn't get any words out of my mouth.

As I looked at him, bewildered, he went on and said: "no that there is anything wrong with having children, my wife has three".

The interview ended there and I went home feeling confused.

I couldn't articulate what was wrong, but I was feeling extremely uncomfortable, and actually, I couldn't sleep that night.

The next day, feeling tired and somewhat sad and disappointed, I talked to a friend about what happened the day before.

As I was telling her the story, it became clear to me that what happened was not okay. Not okay at all.

But even then, I tried to justify his behaviour, thinking that perhaps he was old school and didn't mean it or maybe that I was just exaggerating.

After a few days debating the subject in my head, I decided that the best was to forget that the meeting ever happened and I choose not to follow up.

A couple of weeks past and (to my surprise) I was offered the job. Although it was a great role and a unique opportunity to advance my career, I decided to decline the offer. I just couldn’t work with someone didn’t respect women.

Directing roles don't come up very often. It's like seeing a unicorn. Let alone actually getting the job! It's like riding the unicorn and land at the end of a rainbow.

I couldn't help feeling tricked. Unfortunately, this is a feeling that many of us, women, know too well.

What surprised me the most was not his words but my response to them (or the complete silence in this case).

I was trying really hard to justify the situation, trying to find an angle where I could validate this behaviour to go ahead and accept the job.

In an industry where women have consistently fewer opportunities than men, many times we’re pushed to belittle ourselves and forced to accept conditions that are far from being acceptable because opportunities are so rare.

This is one of the reasons why I decided to start a production company, to cherish diversity and provide equal opportunities in an industry that at times feels so unbalanced.

I hope that in a not too distant future, women won't have to go through experiences like this one and that more creative directors, brands and business owners decide to go with female directors and demand a diverse crew in each project they commission. ( Ironically enough, many of the brands working with the production company I interviewed for sold products for women).

Choosing a female director is not only giving a chance to someone to work but is also balancing the way we perceive the world. Offering an alternative point of view in a world where most of the commercials, films and TV shows we watch every day are created by men.

Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this.