It’s somewhat of a strange paradox that Hollywood has produced numerous features depicting their own industry in such a bad light. The world of showbiz is relentlessly high pressure and fickle. Most would agree that there is some truth in these stories, with entertainment jobs being recognized as some of the most competitive and cut-throat in the world.
Due to the nature of the industry, it’s not surprising that people often speak of feeling pressured to be someone else in this world. For women in particular, it can be especially isolating. In 2019, a report found that women are still largely underrepresented in Hollywood. The percentage of women producers has risen from 24% in 1998 to 27% in 2019, but over a 20 year period, this is still extremely low.
Chidem Anna Alie is one of the women standing her ground in what is traditionally a man’s playground. Alie is a former news anchor, TV host, and production coordinator of film and TV, working on shows like Prison Break as well stations including Fox, Warner, Hallmark, Freeform and Lifetime/A&E. She’s also produced advertising content for brands such as Samsung and BMW. When the opportunity came to move over into the entertainment world, it felt like a natural progression for Alie “I didn’t really question it, I think I took to it right away,” she says.
Alie herself has been lucky to never experience the negative side to the industry. “I have been fortunate enough to not have to experience too much of the cut throat-part,” she explains. “Largely because I think I just stay out of dynamics like that as much as possible. I think also that I have been very lucky too for getting to work with really great people where usually it has been like family and very supportive.”
Despite being lucky enough to have always felt welcomed and comfortable, there is undeniably a pressure to fit in seamlessly in a very masculine environment. “I think there is a silent pressure of conforming to the existing status quo of neutral to more masculine forms of dress and thinking,” Alie says. While this may be the case in many work places where women are a minority in a job where there is a proverbial ladder to be scaled, the competition within the film industry means this is exacerbated. “I think a good number of women likely have had to adopt more masculine traits,” she adds. But for her, she realized that forcing yourself to be someone you are not, does not produce organic results. “I have not really been able to do this to be honest. The times I tried, I didn’t really get the results I wanted.”
But we naturally have to question how we can measure progress for women in the entertainment industry, if past examples have suggested promotions and recognition is won by fitting a stereotype. “I really do question though, how is change really happening in terms of women occupying more space in the workplace like this, if they are just sliding into a ‘male role’?” Alie says.
It’s totally understandable how some people lose themselves in the haze of showbiz, but Alie says that walks, yoga, and meditation all help her to stay grounded. In terms of staying true to herself, Alie says ‘it’s mostly worked out” for her so far, “but at same time it’s gotten me only so far,” she says. “I would not change for anything though. No promotion, no anything is worth it and I feel by staying authentic you find your own way, and that is the right way.”