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Universal Joins Reese Witherspoon, J.J. Abrams, Jordan Peele in Committing to Hiring Female Directors

UPDATED: Universal Pictures’ Peter Cramer, Focus Features’ Peter Kujawski and DreamWorks Animation’s Margie Cohn have committed to hiring at least one female director in the next 18 months as part of the 4% Challenge.

The development was announced Tuesday and comes in the wake of Time’s Up and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative launching the challenge on Jan. 25 at the Sundance Film Festival. The organization said on Monday that more than 50 high-profile Hollywood producers — including Reese Witherspoon, J.J. Abrams, and Jordan Peele — have committed to the 4% Challenge.

The initiative is part of the Timesupx2 campaign to double the number of women in leadership positions.

The name is derived from women having directed only 4% of the country’s top grossing movies over the past decade. Nina Jacobson, Paul Feig, Amy Schumer, Angela Robinson, and Franklin Leonard committed to the promise during a panel discussion on Friday, and Tessa Thompson inaugurated the challenge during a keynote address. Regina King was the first to pledge to taking the 4% Challenge during her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, vowing to employ at least 50% women on everything she produces.

Lena Waithe, Rashida Jones, Olivia Wilde, Armie Hammer, Kumail Nanjiani, Josh Gad, Amy Pascal, Bryce Dallas Howard, Brie Larson, Eva Longoria, Rachel Brosnahan, Constance Wu, Janet Mock, Brad Simpson and Kerry Washington are among the notable producers on board.

The Sundance Film Festival recently reported that 31% of feature-length submissions this year had at least one woman director, as did 35% of episodic and shorts content. Of feature films and episodic content accepted in 2019, 41% had a woman director while 52% of shorts did.

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