Ever since I was a little girl-creature, all I ever wanted in this fine, ever-spinning world was to be an actress and a director.
Since my sandbox days, nothing has sparked up the wild, salacious fire in my bleeding heart like witnessing live theatre and watching movies.
I was that strange breed of kid who had no semblance of interest in athletic sports or violent video games or whatever the f*ck else most kids seemed to gloriously indulge in back in 1994.
My deepest childhood desire was to immerse myself in the safe haven of theatre and film. I spent year after year in my powder-pink, frill-embellished bedroom, perked up against the floral pillows on my antique twin bed and listening to the "Les Misérables" soundtrack on cassette. I memorized every lyric, every subtle melody and every seasoned word of dialogue of the 2.5-hour epic musical production.
School, especially, felt like nothing but a waste of my time. Never did I gracefully land into the arms of academia. Ever.
After enduring the eight hours of required school-day doldrums, I would hop off the teeming-with-germs, dire hell-hole of a yellow school bus and skip home to peel out of my pleated schoolgirl skirt, my forest green knee-socks and my shiny penny loafers in liberation.
Then, I would squeeze my body into a leotard (to be legit, of course) and spend the rest of the evening choreographing intricate dances to a plethora of Broadway musicals.
This wasn't exactly my most “popular” phase. But honestly, I couldn't have cared f*cking less. I had passion, and when you have a passion so relentless and epic and insatiable, who the hell needs friends?
I was a bonafide, no-holds-barred, irresistibly excitable theatre nerd for almost the entirety of my youth (save for a temporary, fleeting distraction when drugs and sex worked their way into the picture somewhere around age 16).
When I was just nine years old, I begged my parents to send me to one of the most prestigious theatre institutes in New York City that I knew my idol, Marlon Brando, had attended in his youth.
Thankfully, they relented, and I poured all of my boiling blood, hormone-laden sweat and salt-ridden tears into becoming the best damn actress and director I could possibly be.
I tirelessly studied the brilliant teachings of all the greats. I dutifully paid my dues and mastered the art of theatre tech. I worked for pennies as a production assistant and acted for free in every single play and every poorly written student film I could get my hands on.
I graduated from one of the top acting conservatories in New York City. I was consumed.
And, like all young people, I didn't know sh*t about life (I still am not sure that I do), but I knew my sh*t when it came to the wild and wonderful world of theatre.
When I finally booked my first professional play in Hollywood at 20 years old, I was beyond elated.
While it was a very male-oriented play with only a mere sprinkling of female characters, it never occurred to me that sexism could be an issue in the progressive world of "the arts."
Well, I might have been hopelessly young and as green as freshly cut grass, but it didn't take me longer than 10 minutes into my first rehearsal to discover that the director was a textbook definition, sexist, sh*tty, 40-something-year-old f*ckboy.
He was a largely overweight piglet, prematurely balding and perpetually bathed in a blanket of sweat. His pores were so large that I could have potted plants in them. He had mean, beady eyes and a weak chin, with a fake New York accent and a revoltingly obvious stage name.
For the purposes of this article, let's call this adult f*ckboy "Pauly."
Pauly had no formal “training,” yet he was a self-proclaimed expert of theatre. Pauly also had a scalding hot temper. And if you didn't deliver the performance he oh-so-desired immediately, he'd squeeze his thick, permanently swollen fists together and scream, stomping his feet on the floor and calling us nasty names.
His idea of directing was taking the cast out for whiskey, getting us wildly intoxicated and forcing us to do bizarre improvisation exercises in "character." Since we all played wives and girlfriends, this usually served as a male feeding frenzy in which the boys were able to touch the girls as they pleased.
Pauly was a classic, grade-A creeper, always the first to trigger an unwelcome touch and forever opting to stare me straight in the chest rather than dare look me in the eye.
Maybe he knew that I knew he was full of sh*t.
Regardless, he spoke down to me. He asked me for my thoughts about a scene and immediately disregarded them as trite and silly. He questioned all of my well-educated, thoughtful, creative choices.
Never once was a male member of the cast ever critiqued. The girls, however, were pushed to the core.
If I offered to help the struggling "stage manager" (intern) with lighting or tech (which I had mastered in college), he would call my efforts cute and tell me to "put more lipgloss on."
I had spent my entire life learning and studying and experiencing everything theatre, only to be told to shut my mouth and adorn it with makeup by a man-child who had never even taken so little as a professional acting class.
I left the experience wildly disheartened, to say the least, but I assumed this blatant sexism was a one-off. Until I booked another gig. And another. And another. And another.
It wasn't long before I noticed a little pattern I like to refer to as "The Boys Club."
The Boys Club. Utter those three words to any girl, and she will instinctively understand what it means.
The Boys Club. It's a weird, elusive thing in which certain men (not all, but some) act as if they're the authority on everything, while us girls are treated as nothing but pretty little accessories. Our efforts are deemed “cute” rather than valid.
It's as if we well-educated, super smart, hyper-successful, hardworking women have opinions that are secondary to a man's.
I have watched with a dropped jaw and a broken heart as my brilliant female director directed an incredible, life-changing, ground-breaking production, only to have a male friend (with one play under his belt) completely tear the production down and rework it in 10 minutes.
And this isn’t just heavy in the entertainment industry -- it feels like it spans into all aspects of life.
The boys are leading the comedic game and cracking dire jokes at the pub, while the girls are expected to be nothing but the tinkling sounds of laughter wafting in the background.
I've seen women pour their hearts, their souls and, most importantly, their brains into their jobs, only for the boys to sweep in at the last minute and tell them how they should run their already successful companies.
Even male cab drivers immediately ask my male friends for the best route to take when crossing to the West Side of Manhattan, despite the fact that I've lived here all of my life and know perfectly well which way will get us there fastest (avoid FDR).
But because I'm a woman, I'm not offered that same chance to display my authority.
When you start becoming aware of The Boys Club, you realize it's absolute f*cking bullsh*t. What the hell does gender have to do with authority? What does gender have to do with wit or intelligence or management?
F*ck The Boys Club. Because -- and I don't know about you, my sweet sisters-in-crime -- I'm sick of being talked down to because I'm a GIRL.
I mean, come on ladies. How many endless times has a man attempted to give you his noble "career advice" about an industry he knows nothing about?
I've been told how to write articles by men who have never ventured outside the world of finance. I've had men tell me how much I should be paying in rent for my apartment in Manhattan when they've never lived anywhere except Florida.
How many times do men get pissed off at us for not bowing down in absolute and total gratitude when they bestow their unasked for wisdom and insight into our lives?
So listen up, men: We are women, and we are masters of our craft. F*ck the boy/girl game. F*ck having to smile pretty and pretend to listen to a clueless man as he tears down years of our hard work or talks down to us in a corporate meeting.
F*ck having to be twice as educated, twice as experienced and twice as hardworking in order to be considered remotely equal to our male counterparts.
Because in the words of the original riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna, “I believe with my wholeheartmindbody that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can and will change the world for real.”
F*ck The Boys Club. We don’t need to stand behind your goddamn velvet rope.