For my friend Emma

…and all my other female actor friends and colleagues, a simple request to storytellers and writers:

When creating a female character for your story (or any character, for that matter), please describe her in terms that reflect who she is and not in terms of how she relates to another.


Phrases like ex-girlfriend or soccer mom provide only a limited degree of context and tell us nothing at all about your vision for that character.

Is she a psychotic Glen Close type of character or is she a nurturing Barbara Billingsley type of character?

To what does she aspire?

If presented with a spider, she would [fill in the blank].

Around a board room table, her position would be [location], she would be dressed [adjective], her posture would be [adjective] and her eyes would express [noun].

If the character is important enough to move your story along, the character is important enough to be a human being (or whatever species you are dealing with).

If not, then you probably don’t need the character in your story.

5 thoughts on “For my friend Emma

  1. This is so true. Women are seen in relation to others, and far too many women think of themselves in these terms. I was talking to a friend of mine not long ago, who said that now her husband was dead and her children had left home, she didn’t know who she was, because ‘all’ she’d ever been was ‘mother’ and ‘wife’ – she didn’t think of herself outside of her relation to others.

    • Hopefully your friend has been able to find herself under all of that mirroring.

      It’s a common frustration for many of my women actor friends, and I was tweaked onto my own inherent biases by a sketch comedy writer and actress I studied under years ago, who challenged all of the men in the class to rethink their latest sketch with a woman as a protagonist. Upon examination, I couldn’t believe how many sketches I had written with almost know definitive women.

      The shock must have paid off as my two most recent film screenplays have had strong female leads, and several of my television pilots have a woman protagonist.

      Thanks for sharing…Randy

  2. Pingback: Unintended misogyny | createdbyrcw

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