‘The Handmaid’s Tale’s’ Reed Morano on ‘Widening the Pool’ of Female Directors

“The Handmaid’s Tale” Emmy sweep is one of the greater success stories of this year’s nominations — and so is Reed Morano, who directed the first three episodes of Hulu’s breakout hit. Morano, a relatively new director with 50 cinematography credits to her name, generated early industry buzz for her work on the dystopian drama, and now has cemented herself as a first-time Emmy nominee with not just one, but two noms for her work behind the camera.  

You are nominated for directing “The Handmaid’s Tale” and for cinematography on HBO’s “Divorce.” What does the awards recognition mean to you?

I can’t really put into words what it feels like because it’s a rarity when people come out of the gate and everything happens all at once for them — those are special, amazing Hollywood stories. I’ve just been working at this for so long, and I have shot a lot of TV shows so it’s kind of ironic for “Divorce” to get the nomination, which I had no idea it was being submitted, so it was just a very welcome surprise. You’re always like, “Ah, I hope one day that that happens,” but you never really know if it’s going to. I feel really, really lucky.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” was nominated for 13 Emmys. How does that help the show?

I think it legitimizes the show, but also, if people aren’t already watching it, they’ll watch it now. I wasn’t really looking at it this way, but there was a lot of pressure for this show. Everybody was saying this was the show that would make or break Hulu, and to have it do what everybody needed it to do is super gratifying because this was my first time directing a pilot and the first three episodes of anything.

What is the message you hope viewers take away from “The Handmaid’s Tale?”

In America we tend to be very sheltered, and I’m speaking from personal experience because I feel sheltered. When we’re exposed to the ways of life in other places where they don’t have the same freedoms we have — for example, Muslim countries — that is everything that’s happening in “Handmaid’s Tale.” When I first started making the show my hope was that this might open up people’s eyes to what life is like for other people and how good we have it. I think we can’t forget that while we’re relating this show to our current political situation within the United States, it’s just generally a really not great state of affairs in the world right now politically — not just our own.

There are three female directors nominated in your category. Is that a sign of progress for the industry?

I feel like directing is more about who the individual is rather than if they’re a man or a woman. It’s kind of hard to generalize and group all of us female filmmakers into one group like we’re all going provide you with the same thing, because we’re not. We’re all individuals. There’s a lot of pressure being put on the gender aspect, but I think that’s because of how things started out in Hollywood, because it was always a male-dominated industry. So, it takes a lot longer for everyone to get on board with the fact that hiring a woman is not going to handicap you necessarily. You just need to hire the right person, whether they’re a man or a woman. It’s about widening the pool.

Why do you think it’s taking the industry so long to widen that pool?

I think there’s a tendency of thinking you’re safer in the hands of a man when you’re making such a huge product, but it really has nothing to do with gender. It has to do about an individual person’s creativity and ability to collaborate and ability to run a crew and communicate with everyone. I think it’s a common misconception that because you’re a woman, you can’t command a set and have people respect you and for some reason, Hollywood is really far behind every other industry. It’s getting better, it’s just slow. I can’t stress enough that there is an attitude too that women can’t do action movies or superhero films or whatever. I think if they do them, you might actually get something that isn’t a cookie-cutter product like every other thing we’ve ever seen for the past however many years. You might get something new and fresh.


Popular on Variety

More TV

  • The Daily Show Trevor Noah BTS

    Emmys: Celebrating the Unsung Heroes of Late Night

    They’re the names that fly by when the credits roll. But every member of the production staff on a late-night talk show is a foot soldier waging a daily battle against time and limited resources to make the show come alive. Whether the series is a freight train that runs Monday through Friday or a [...]

  • Born This Way AE Network

    A&E Sets Holiday Finale Special for 'Born This Way'

    A&E Network has set a holiday finale special for “Born This Way,” the Emmy-winning reality series that chronicles the transition to adulthood for eight young men and women with Down syndrome. A&E plans to air the hourlong finale in December for the docu-reality series that ran four seasons, starting in 2015. Before the special debuts, [...]

  • Melanie Hamilton - Comcast Spotlight

    Comcast Spotlight Hires Google Exec Melanie Hamilton as VP National Sales

    Comcast Spotlight, the ad-sales division of Comcast Cable, named Melanie Hamilton as VP, national sales. An 11-year veteran of Google, Hamilton was most recently the internet giant’s head of industry for the telecom sector and led its AT&T account. At Comcast Spotlight, Hamilton will oversee the company’s national sales strategy across both holding companies and [...]

  • HBO-Chernobyl

    Sky Outlines Plans for 'Cinematic' Original Content to Rival HBO, Showtime

    Comcast-backed Sky has outlined plans for expanded and “cinematic” original content to rival U.S. networks HBO and Showtime. Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival on Thursday, Sky managing director of content Zai Bennett explained some of the ways the pay-TV giant plans to invest in original content after its programming budget was recently doubled by [...]

  • TV Ratings: ‘BH90210’ Drops Again, 'Big

    TV Ratings: ‘BH90210’ Drops Again, 'Big Brother' Tops Wednesday

    Fox’s “BH90210” revival continued to slide in the Wednesday night ratings. After posting an impressive 1.5 debut rating in the 18-49 demographic, the show slid 40% to a 0.95 in week two, and now an extra 15% to a 0.8 in week three. The show’s total viewership has also declined slightly from last week’s 2.5 [...]

  • Hyde Park Entertainment chief Ashok Amritraj

    Ashok Amritraj's Hyde Park Launches Large-Scale Production Venture in India

    Top-level talent including Paul Feig, Gurinder Chadha and Anurag Kashyap are on board as leading Hollywood independent Hyde Park Entertainment makes a major launch into the Indian production scene. The company is headed by Ashok Amritraj, the highest-profile Indian executive based in Los Angeles. The diversification move is made possible by the growing success of [...]

  • Sean Spicer Dancing With the Stars

    Sean Spicer Hopes 'Dancing With the Stars' Gig Will 'Move the Country Forward'

    In the face of a swift backlash, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he hoped his role as a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” can help “move the country forward in a positive way.” Spicer told CNN on Thursday that his “DWTS” posting was about entertainment, not politics. ABC revealed Spicer [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content