In case you missed it, Casting Networks recently announced its partnership with the TIME’S UP Foundation, an organization that works toward “a world where women have an equal shot at success and security.” And if the entirely-male list of Best Director nominees for this year’s Academy Awards was any indication, there is a definite need for gender equity in that area of the industry. Here at Casting Networks, we believe in bringing to the forefront those who are underrepresented, so we’re highlighting some of the featured filmmakers from IndieWire’s annual list of rising women directors. From their previous work to upcoming titles, we’ve got you covered with three need-to-know women directors to keep on your radar. 


Tayarisha Poe

You might know Poe from her work as writer, director, and producer of Amazon Studios’ Selah and the Spades. The teen drama feature released on the streaming platform in April after making its premiere at last year’s Sundance Film Festival. Selah and the Spades follows the leader of the most powerful group on the campus of an elite boarding school as she seeks to find her replacement before graduation. Prior to her breakout film, Poe wrote, shot, directed, and edited a 2012 short entitled Honey and Trombones. She was also a still photographer on the 2015 drama The Fits and a camera operator on the 2016 short Selkie. Those are the only other credits listed on her IMDb page before Selah and the Spades, making her jump to Amazon that much more impressive. Since then, Poe has also directed two episodes in the second season of The CW anthology series Two Sentence Horror Stories, and she’s staying in the TV world for her next project. The budding filmmaker will be writing, directing, and producing the upcoming Amazon original series Selah and the Spades, which is based on her directorial feature debut.


Cathy Yan

You may have heard of Warner Bros.’ recent film Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), which starred and was executively produced by Margot Robbie. Yan directed the studio feature, making her the first woman Asian-American director to land in the director’s chair for a superhero film. It was a big transition from her previous indie credits, but not necessarily a surprise. Her Zazie Beetz-starring feature Dead Pigs garnered a lot of attention when it earned a World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Up next for Yan is A24’s Sour Hearts, a feature inspired by Jenny Zhang’s short-story collection. Zhang and Yan are co-writing the script, and Yan is slated to direct the coming-of-age film that speaks to the immigrant experience through the lens of children and parents. 


Emerald Fennell 

You may have been eager to see the Carey Mulligan-starring Promising Young Woman before COVID-19 caused Focus Features to put its theatrical release indefinitely on pause. But in the meantime, you can learn more about its writer, director, and producer Emerald Fennell. The revenge tale about a woman living a secret double life is Fennell’s feature directorial debut. The English filmmaker has a background in front of the camera, and her acting résumé boasts titles like The Danish Girl and The Crown. But it was her breakthrough role as the showrunner for season two of Killing Eve that solidified her prowess as a filmmaker. As for upcoming projects, Fennell is attached as both writer and executive producer of a Fox Networks project that has been in the works for a while. It’s a sci-fi comedy movie entitled Spacebound that centers on an alien who becomes stranded on Earth and finds herself accepted into a group of oddball friends. 


Poe, Yan, and Fennell have fought through their historically male-dominated area of the industry to make a name for themselves via some big titles. Their success is moving us all one step closer to one goal of the TIME’S UP Foundation: “shifting the paradigm of workplace culture toward one of safety, equity, and dignity for women of all kinds.” So whether you’re watching Selah and the Spades, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), or you plan to watch Promising Young Woman, you can take in and support the noteworthy work of women directors. And together we can move toward a future in which the industry is a place of gender equity in front of and behind the camera.


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