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Film director Gabriela Tagliavini on Hollywood After #MeToo and Making Movies in Miami

Interview by Nadja Atwal, MSM Editor-in-Chief 
Gabriela Tagliavini has accomplished what many dream of: making it in Hollywood … as a Latina, … as a female, … as a film director –  with highly praised projects in both English and Spanish.  It’s a time of celebration for her right now, since she and her latest comedy “How To Break Up With Your Douchebag”  is nominated for the greatest latin film award in the US, the Image Awards. In the category for best film director, her name is listed next to  Guillermo del Toro who won the Oscar this year for “The Shape of Water”. We met with Gabriela to get the inside scoop on women in Hollywood  –  ever since the shake up by the Harvey Weinstein scandal and increased momentum of the #MeToo movement. And of course we were very much interested in hearing her take on the Miami film industry…

NA: There we have Hollywood films turning women into super heroes on screen, able to take on any male enemy and yet when we look at equal pay for equal work I don’t know one industry that shows a bigger gap between men and women than in Hollywood. How come and do you anticipate any change on the horizon?

GT: Women and minorities are excited to write and direct characters that are like them. But the DGA just published a study that showed that there has been a little improvement in movies directed by women, but minority film directors has hit a 5 year low last year. We are going backwards? How is that possible? I wish everyone will make more movies about women superheroes, supermoms, superCEOs. It’s our responsibility to empower little girls. I made it my life’s goal.

NA: A successful  talent manager once said: Hollywood was created so ugly men can sleep with beautiful women. This is one reason I never aspired to be an actress. How is the vibe for a female director when you go in to meet with producers hoping to land a job?

GT: When I go to job interviews, I dress extra unfeminine to be taken seriously. I wear pants, low shoes and very little make up. I feel that the landscape has changed since last year. Women are more united. Actresses are asking their reps that they want to work with female directors. Studios are asking agents to send them lists of the female directors. And we get to go to meetings. But the stats show that we still have a long way to go to create equal opportunity. Because that’s all we want, a sit at the table. 

NA: You are one of the few female latin filmmakers in Hollywood, won several awards, but you also keep making films in Spanish in countries like Mexico. Kindly tell us about the differences, the good, the bad and the ugly.

GT: Shooting in Mexico I have way more creative freedom. I can cast knowns and the best actors for the part without needing to cast a star to get a movie financed because the films get made with government incentives. I love shooting in Mexico or Europe for that reason. In Hollywood, I have to make more political decisions, but the positive side of shooting in the U.S. is that the product will probably reach more audiences because the distribution is worldwide. 

NA: Do you feel that the latin community is adequately represented in Hollywood on the actor and director front? Are you satisfied? What needs to change?

GT: I’m proud that in the last years, 3 Latino directors won 4 Oscars as best directors. But no Latina woman was ever nominated. In fact, only one woman won the Oscar as best director. This needs to change. It’s very important to have more women and Latinos behind the camera so they can create more roles for Latinos and women in front of the camera. I just read a study that showed that half of Latino characters on TV are portrayed as criminals. That it’s a fact. Images affect the way we see ourselves and how others see us. That’s why many people see undocumented Latinos as bad, but most are hard working people who came to this country for opportunities.

NA: I lived in Hollywood California and must say I much prefer Hollywood Florida. With the best picture win of  “Moonlight “ at the Oscars, is there a new willingness among filmmakers to give Florida a sincere shot ?

GT: The best-picture Oscar win by “Moonlight” was shot on location in Miami and it showed it in a way we haven’t seen it. That means, many other stories can be shot there. Most of us, see Florida as a place with paradise beaches and warm weather, but Florida has so much more. It has great crews, and atmosphere. I do hope that more filmmakers give Florida a shot!

NA: You know Miami well.

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