Award-winning comedienne Elizabeth Banks and her digital media company WhoHaha are teaming up with YouTube Space for a new initiative called Women in Comedy, designed to mentor women across the world.
The program will offer mentorships, events, and workshops to over 100 women with “female-driven videos,” Banks stated in a promotional video. These women will not only write their own comedic content, but will also edit and produce their own videos. They will have access to custom sets and YouTube’s production team as well.
These women will have 12 weeks to create funny, new content that will make others laugh and inspire more young women to become active in the world of comedy. They will also be able to work with each other and other YouTube stars and will learn the skills necessary to both be on camera and work behind it.
Banks and WhoHaha have already mentored hundreds of women in the Los Angeles area, but by combining their efforts with YouTube Space, they will be able to expand into areas such as Toronto, New York, Mumbai, Rio De Janeiro, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, and London.
The Women in Comedy initiative comes at a time when women are often inadequately represented in production positions. According to a study done by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, “startlingly high” rates of programs had no women employed in behind-the-scenes roles. Of the programs considered in the study, upwards of 60 percent had no women employed as writers, directors, editors, creators, or directors of photography.
These alarming statistics inspired Banks and WhoHaha to work with YouTube to find a way to keep women present in the comedy world, while also involving more women in the production side of entertainment.
“At WhoHaha, we believe it’s not only important but essential for women to have a platform to be able to share their voices and creativity,” Banks said in a statement. “That’s why we’re excited to be teaming up with YouTube Space on this initiative that’s providing such a groundbreaking opportunity to creators all over the world.”
The cause is also something close to Banks’ heart. She has been in show business for nearly 20 years as an actress, producer, and director, and she has certainly noticed that women play a very different role in the industry than men.
“Believe us when we tell you that it’s not equal and it’s hard and you will be held to higher standards and you have to work hard and you have to stay committed,” she told AdAge. “I was told growing up, ‘The world is your oyster and you can be whatever you want.’ The fact of the matter is, that is empirically untrue for most women. We need those barriers to be broken down by young people, as well as us seasoned pros.”
Banks, WhoHaha, and YouTube hope that their Women in Comedy initiative will help tear these barriers down and show young women that they, too, can find their voice in the comedy world, both in front and behind the camera. The world will be reintroduced to the power of the female sense of humor in early 2018, when Women in Comedy is expected to launch a collaboration video with many of its new faces.
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