Jennifer Siebel Newsom is a documentary filmmaker on a mission. After several years as an actress in Hollywood films, TV and theatre, she is turning her attention to gender representation in the media.
Newsom has founded The Representation Project, an organsisation that uses “film as a catalyst for cultural transformation”. The films produced by the project explore the media’s role in defining gender, asking us to critically examine the messages we consume.
What does it mean to be a Woman?
In 2011 Newsom wrote, directed and produced the film Miss Representation, a documentary film that explores how mainstream media is responsible for “limited and often disparaging portrayals of women”. The film asked people to consider what the media is teaching young people about themselves, particularly girls. The key line of the films trailer is “You can’t be what you can’t see”, suggesting that positive female role models and characters are needed to transform the media landscape for women.
What does it mean to be a Man?
In their latest film The Mask You Live In, the project looks deeply into the negative effects of the message men and boys are often told: “Man Up”. The film makes a disturbing link between the high rates of male suicide and the media’s encouragement to deny feelings and the aggressive portrayal of men in the media.
The Representation Project argues that the media shapes politics, culture, values and how we feel about ourselves. They ask us to demand better media.