'I'm a Movie Producer, Gender-Neutral Award Categories Carry Risks'

I've wanted to be an actress since I was 8 years old. I grew up in a family of four where everyone was fairly busy, so whenever I felt lonely I would immerse myself into imaginary worlds—role playing narratives I had written in my head, talking to myself in the mirror or acting out stories with my toys. I was quite the chatterbox.

I attended a French-speaking elementary school in Monaco and every year they held a Christmas show. I fell in love with the stage instantly. It may sound strange, but I enjoyed the nerves before a performance.

I loved the feeling of being so scared but powering through it. To me it's like bungee jumping or skydiving. When I'm on stage, I can't be stuck in my head anymore, so I just have to trust the process. Then, when it's done, I feel so relieved, no matter what the outcome is.

Adriana Randall
Adriana Randall is an actress and producer based in London. She co-founded a production company called Marzipan Productions when she was 27 years old. Adriana Randall

As a teenager I attended boarding school in England and studied drama for both my GCSE and A-Level examinations—the British equivalent to SATs and ACTs. I also completed additional examinations in acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

At 17 years old I applied for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, one of the oldest drama schools in the United Kingdom. At the time I had no training, but one of my dad's friends was married to an actress, so she helped me prepare.

At such a young age, I found the interview process very intimidating. Everyone was in their thirties and they gave a big speech before the auditions started. I was already terrified by the time I got on stage.

I wanted to do something big, that would make me seem more mature. I chose to perform a monologue from the perspective of a 35-year-old woman in a wheelchair. I thought it would be interesting, but it just did not work and I did not get a place at the school.

After leaving school I wanted to pursue acting further, but my parents encouraged me to go to get a degree in a more traditional subject, so I studied languages at University College London.

Challenges in the acting industry

When I was 22, I moved to New York and enrolled in the The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, where I studied method acting for two years. After graduating I found an agent and worked on various projects, but I continually found it difficult to land roles due to my accent.

While I never experienced bullying in the industry, I found some male actors would not respect the unwritten codes within the acting world. For example, in one of my movies I ended up having to tell one of my colleagues off for constantly blocking me on camera.

On the stage or on a film set each actor has a mark, and often I find certain actors, especially males, will move from their spot or linger in a certain place to try and get as much screen or stage time as possible.

Everyone wants attention, but I find it unprofessional and quite selfish to constantly try and steal the limelight. Sometimes people on set notice, but usually not much happens to stop it.

Throughout my career I've always had an issue with feeling as though I'm not being taken seriously. I appear very young for my age and while I can't definitively say people treated me differently because of that, I have thought I was being treated like a child in the past.

Moving into film production

Adriana Randall
Adriana is pictured on the set of the 2016 film, The Call Up. Adriana Randall

After a while, I became tired of constantly hustling as an actress. I wanted more control—over my contacts and what projects I was working on. I thought I could gain a little bit more power and respect if I worked on the production side of the industry.

So, when I was 27, I co-founded a production company called Marzipan Productions with my father. My dad had been investing in plays for years before I even started acting, so it was the perfect fit.

I think the production industry is male-dominated, and whether it's spoken or not, I feel there's a certain energy when you work in a more masculine environment. I believe that within the industry it's usually just assumed a man knows what he's doing, whereas that's not always the case with women.

Additionally, women may feel the need to dress in a certain way, wear high-heeled shoes and make-up. Even when there is nobody outrightly objectifying you, sometimes you can't help but feel a bit like a piece of meat.

When it comes to my own productions, I try to create independent projects which prioritize good acting and storylines. I usually find that with larger Hollywood productions, everything is more commercialized and little too beautiful.

Female actresses especially tend to be very conventionally attractive; everything is so perfect to look at. I think sometimes they miss out on the artistic side and the subtleties are gone.

I feel that quite often with male-led movies, women have to be objects of desire. Of course, I understand there always needs to be something that sells, but I believe in keeping a bit of integrity as well.

Changing entertainment industry

Adriana Randall
Adriana is pictured on vacation in Switzerland with her sister, Arabella. Adriana Randall

I do believe the entertainment industry is changing as a whole. I am half-Chinese and find I am receiving more auditions than ever before, especially for commercials and streaming channels, which my agent believes is because casting agents are looking for more diverse cast members.

In terms of awards in the entertainment industry, I don't keep up too much with them any longer. I love speaking about film—sharing my passion with other people and hearing the views of other producers, but I do feel they are largely driven by marketing.

I really respect every single actor, however it seems to me that one person might win an award thanks to having a fantastic script or supporting cast, while other actors who have contributed, in my opinion, far more to the industry are not recognised.

Regarding the removal of gendered categories, I think it would be a real shame if this were to become widespread in the film and acting world. I believe the intention is good, but perhaps that it would create more of an issue if ultimately more men win awards than women.

Often the person who wins best actor or actress is hired for more movies later on, because they attract more attention, which could be really limiting to females in the industry.

My fear is a larger quantity of male award winners will perhaps lead to a large increase male-produced movies, as many successful actors tend to launch their own production companies.

I respect women who take control of the system and get involved in producing work, both on stage and on screen. I would love to encourage and empower more women to join the production side of the entertainment industry.

Adriana Randall is an actress and producer based in London. She is a graduate of The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York City.

All views expressed in this article are the author's own.

As told to Newsweek's My Turn associate editor, Monica Greep.

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