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Lifetime Network Promises Jobs To Female Filmmakers In AFI Program

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'UnREAL' co-creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro speaks at The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment breakfast (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter)
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Hollywood has a problem with sexism and discriminating against women—especially when it comes to directing gigs—so one network is stepping up to the plate to close the gap.On Wednesday at The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment breakfast, A&E Networks CEO Nancy Dubuc, alongside UnREAL co-creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, announced that the Lifetime network, which is owned by a subsidiary of A&E Networks, would guarantee jobs to every graduate of the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women. "To address what seems like an endless cycle of gender inequity in media, I believe we need to think beyond what our industry has already tried to do through mentorships and internships," said Dubuc. "We need to stop talking and start moving the needle, and one solution is to simply give women jobs."

Shapiro is a graduate of the AFI workshop and called it "vital." "They deemed me worthy. They invested in me. They took me seriously. They didn't think there was a damn thing wrong with me," she said.

THR's Women In Entertainment breakfast, which marks the release of their first unranked edition of the annual Power 100, was kicked off with Lena Dunham praising Hollywood's "power bitches" for their efforts in closing the gender gap in the entertainment industry.

The Lifetime network's guarantee is a part of their Broad Focus initiative, launched in May, which strives to put more women behind the camera to write, develop, produce and direct programming for the channel. This year, 42 percent of their Lifetime original movies have been made by women. Dubuc said the move is just a "first step" and hopes "it will inspire others to join our charge."

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