If I make any more double entendre “women on top" jokes to signify the importance of women in positions of power, I’ll be blogging in the reverse cowgirl position. Still, it cannot go unnoticed that these fabulous, fierce, and fiercely fabulous women have made their way to the top of the charts as Hollywood executives in an industry not known for putting women in positions of power. Behold! Female executives are not only breaking the rules, they’re re-writing them. Also, bless our progress as equality-advocating humanists, this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Even though The Nation published a study last year that confirmed TV executives are 96% white and 71% male, I was faced with an abundance of choices when assembling this list. Sure, we have a long way to go until we reach a world of total racial and gender equality, but we are obviously on our way.
1. . Shonda Rhimes
Shonda Rhimes is the woman behind Grey's Anatomy and its spin off, Private Practice, not to mention the first African-American woman to create and executive produce a top 10 network series. In 2012, she caused a disruption in the monotone TV landscape when she launched her second big television hit, Scandal. She is also the creator of How to Get Away With Murder, which is killing it in ratings right now. Throw in a couple of GLAAD Media and NAACP Image Awards to boot, and it's easy to see why Shonda Rhimes' production company, ShondaLand would more aptly have been titled ShondaTakesOverTheWorld.
2. . Bonnie Hammer
NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment chief Bonnie Hammer is throwing down the hammer on stereotypes about aging in showbiz. Last year she took a big swing at ageism in an article she penned for Fortune Magazine. Hammer has helped boost ratings on her networks including E! Bravo and SyFy. Look out, L.A.- it’s Hammertime! (Disclosure: Oxygen is part of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, and we couldn't be prouder!)
3. . Nancy Utley
Nancy Utley serves as the Co-President of Fox Searchlight Films. Guys, I’m talking Birdman, 12 Years A Slave, Grand Budapest Hotel, Demolition, Brooklyn… nuff said. This woman’s got skillz in all kinds of directions, including three Best Picture Oscar wins. All eyes are on her right now, and I’m not just saying that because she works for a company called Spotlight.
4. . Debra Lee
You can bet that Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO of BET Networks, is a woman who knows what it takes to kick ass and take names when it comes to producing original content. Under her leadership, the BET Awards scored a record 7.2 million viewers, not to mention the channel's first hour-long hit, Being Mary Jane.
5. . Elizabeth Gabler
Elizabeth Gabler was named president of FOX 2000 in 1999 and has brought us all kinds of joy since, including the feature film Joy. She also had a hand in The Devil Wears Prada, Walk the Line, Man on Fire, Marley and Me, and a bunch of other blockbusters. The Fault in Our Stars? Also her fault. Not bad for a day's work. Not bad at all.
6. . Nancy Dubuc
Nancy Dubac serves as president and CEO of A+E Networks. Under her leadership, A+E fronted the cash for a 20% stake in Vice Media Holdings, the group that brought us VICELAND which is kicking ass and taking names at scratching our hard-to-reach media itches. She's been behind some of the most major cable TV victories in the last decade, including Project Runway, Dance Moms, Duck Dynasty, Bates Motel, and more. Known for her savvy strategy, Dubac is turning heads with her ability to turn fly-over channels into destination favorites.
7. . Iris Xia
Currently the deputy general manager of Star China Media, Iris Xia is nicknamed "China's Rupert Murdoch." She's worked with Star China since 2004 holding various positions with overwhelming successes. Xia manages the company's partnerships with Fox, BBC, and Hong Kong's TVB.
8. . Donna Langley
As chairman of Universal Pictures, Donna Langley helped pull in $6.7 billion box office bucks in 2015 with a string of hits including Jurassic World, Pitch Perfect 2, and Straight Outta Compton. Known for being more interested in producing commercial hits than bragging about them, Langley gets props from high rollers for being understatedand - according to an interview with Elizabeth Banks in The Hollywood Reporter- a kickass dancer.
9. . Cindy Holland
She's a big part of the reason Netflix and Chill is even a thing, and has $5 billion of content coming your way in 2016. Cindy Holland, Vice President of original content at Netflix, is also the author of the bestselling guide to being an effective Hollywood executive entitled, Everything I Need to Know About Managing People, I Learned From Coaching Competative Waterskiing. Ok, she never wrote that book, but she did spend some time both competing and coaching competitive water skiing and cites many of her most important life lessons as coming from that experience.
10. . Channing Dungey
As of February of this year, Channing Dungey is the first African-American woman ever to lead the entertainment division of a major broadcast network, taking over as ABC's executive vice president of drama. Dungey has been with ABC since 2009, and has her eyes on upping diversity on the channel to help with sagging ratings.
11. . Kathleen Kennedy
Handpicked by George Lucas himself, Kathleen Kennedy currently serves as the president of Lucasfilm with 120 Oscar noms under her belt, as well as four of the highest grossing films in herstory: Jurassic Park, E.T., Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skill, and The Sixth Sense. Her full resume is too long to list, making her secretary-to-executive story one for the ages. Hrm... Is it just me, or does that sound like it would make an awesome screenplay? Kathleen, hit up my agent if you're interested. I'm more than happy to ghostwrite.