Complex Female Characters

Cookie and Co.: The Women of ‘Empire’

Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon in 'Empire'

Fox’s midseason drama ‘Empire’ is a huge hit, and it is easy to see why. The gloriously soapy family melodrama is chockablock with “watercooler moments” (are those still a thing?), many provided by the series’s breakout character Cookie Lyon, played with obvious joy by Taraji P. Henson. But despite all the well-deserved attention Cookie is getting, she’s not the only great female character ‘Empire’ has to offer.

‘Her Side of the Bed’: One Bitch’s Story in Navigating the World of Indie Film Production


If I were to give any advice to indie filmmakers, and especially women in this industry it would be this: It’s going to be hard. Really, really hard. You must be unrelenting. But practice tact, learn how to read people, know when to to keep pushing and when to let go. You’re going to need to hustle. Grow a thick skin. Learn to take rejection gracefully, because it’s going to happen. A lot.

Male Mask, Female Voice: The Noir of Ida Lupino

Ida Lupino

Lupino then struck out from the studio system to direct three noirs of her own: ‘Outrage,’ ‘The Hitch-Hiker,’ and ‘The Bigamist,’ the only classic noirs made by a female auteur. Each uses a different strategy to challenge the empathy gap between spectators and female characters, and to subvert the femme-fatale trope.

‘The Babadook’: Jennifer Kent on Her Savage Domestic Fairy Tale


Jennifer Kent: “I didn’t start with motherhood being the primary focus, but it is a very important part of the film, and I’m very adamant not to make this woman the evil mother. That’s why I placed the film very much inside her experience.”

How to Get Away with Dynamic Black Women Leads


Not only does this kind of stereotyping delegitimize Black women’s feelings, but it functions as a racist and misogynistic social policing tactic that pressures black women to self-censor their opinions, feelings and needs, or else be written off as a “type.” In fictional representations, the Angry Black Woman labeling and policing limits the types of black women we see in film, literature, comics, television, and other media.

‘Martyrs’: Female Friendships Can Be Bloody Complex


Often in feminist criticism female friendships are discussed as a great barometer for the authenticity of the female characters. Strong bonds and healthy interactions serve the dual purpose of highlighting positive female roles and for showing the many dimensions of women as whole persons. I propose that in order to continue the push to show women as well-developed characters we also need representations of flawed female friendships.

Seed & Spark: Finding the Female Voice

Blue is the Warmest Color

When I contemplate women in film, two thoughts come to mind: women in front of the camera, and women behind the camera. We are all familiar with the stereotypical female characters in movies and TV shows that portray traditional, predictable roles. There’s nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but it isn’t teaching us anything new about what it’s like to actually be a woman. When I fell in love with independent film in the early 2000s, it was for one reason: I had never experienced anything as risky or as honest as filmmaking without rules or boundaries. This was especially true in terms of exploration of female characters. It was refreshing, enlightening and, eventually, life changing.