The following is a true story, gathered from conversation.
“You might be insane,” he said when she asked the man, a producer, to meet for coffee while in town for his premiere. She was heartbroken, she knew she crossed the line by emailing him while not getting back a response, in fact she admitted that much in her apology. It didn’t matter, the first impression was already made. The only thing she wanted to do, was be mentored by her idol. While he had given her a second chance at a first impression, it seemed like there were still some reservations on his part. In spite of getting some advice from him and general good-natured support and encouragement, they never met.
Twenty years earlier: Approaching college graduation, inspired by his love for music, that young man called several times to a record executive in New York. Clearly the executive was none too happy about it, half-dismissing him, he told the young man (then located in a rural mountain-west college campus) to relocate to New York within a week of graduation for a job. After partying hard the night before the end of college life, exiting with barely passing grades, the young man drove to New York, missing his own graduation. He got a job on the spot with a top record company, moving to LA shortly thereafter to pursue a career in film (the exec allegedly paid for his cross-country gas).
This is exactly the kind of subtle bias at work for a woman pursuing the entertainment business.
I am absolutely NOT suggesting the producer in this story is sexist, NOT AT ALL. For a fact, he’s both hired women and done well to encourage others, including the woman in this story. However, it begs the question of how male and female persistence is greeted and treated differently in one circumstance over the other, generally speaking. One got a job offer. Only many months later over a bizarre turn of events did the young woman get some encouragement and positive feedback before the man disappeared out of her life without a word. One started a career, the other is still pursuing the same level of mentorship the producer got right out of college.
That’s not to say he didn’t struggle in between driving to NY and when he landed in LA. No one avoids the struggle, male or female. But not all struggles are created equal either.
All too often, male-female interaction is reduced to possible sexual innuendo. Even where someone may be attracted to the other, it is assumed better to avoid than to possibly entertain third party presumptions of a relationship or to invite emotional attachment. The man in question is indeed a very handsome man, and he knows it too. He also knows the young woman finds him attractive, and that presents this complicated layer of male-female interaction professionally.
There’s no certainty that this is the case with this story, but it is a viable assumption given industry tendencies. Instead of assuming both parties could act professional in spite of attraction, many industry men prefer to avoid working with a woman outright. In spite of all they had in common, it is then possible to assume this man may never have felt truly comfortable to do anything more but offer advice to that young woman. In an industry where men are the vast majority of those in charge, this creates a challenge for young women to find male mentorship required for success in “above-line” endeavors.
Ultimately, one can only wonder whether the same series of events would unfold similarly if that young woman were a man. Even then, such a thought too would only be an assumption. The woman in this story remains nothing but grateful for his interaction with her, and makes no accusations against him of any kind. At best, this post serves to present general questions about possible cultural bias stemming from two stories of persistence.
So I will leave you with this assumption, just assume a man wrote this email to their professional idol two months out of college and form your own conclusion:
This should only take a minute to read — I merely admire you, and wanted to share with you a brief inspiring story of why I have tried so hard to speak to you after our brief text conversation in June;
In 1995 Derek Jeter was a rookie for the Yankees who had the chance to meet Mickey Mantle, someone he admired. Jeter chose not to meet Mantle, as he felt he was just a rookie with little to offer. Mantle died later that year & Jeter never met him. Today Jeter, a future first ballot hall of famer, has surpassed 3000 hits & will go down as one of the greatest Yankees of all time. Jeter didn’t know he would become such a legend. Surely, I do not know what will become of me. One thing I can say is that unlike Jeter, I reached out to you knowing that I have tremendous potential, despite a lack of direct Hollywood work experience. Jeter always knew he wanted to play short stop for the Yankees. He knew his potential. I always knew that I wanted to work with you (or get to know you). I know my potential, and it is limitless. While I may not overtake Avatar’s box office record the way Jeter did Gherig’s franchise hit record, I know enough to be of promising hope that I may do at least something great. The Yankees took a chance on Jeter. I am hoping that you, (Producers Name), will one day take a chance on me. If you would like to take that chance, I have a one page resume, with a brief addendum containing my film and business courses/skills that I could send to you. I can only hope to hear from you before I never get the chance again.
Sincerely & with utmost admiration