Santa Monica Blogger Showcases Women As Powerful Agents

Santa Monica Blogger Showcases Women As Powerful Agents
Paloma Bennett’s blog analyzes, discusses, and suggests television programs and films that feature female characters that stand strong on their own rights without depending on men to drive their stories forward.

For Santa Monica resident Paloma Bennett, television isn’t something to passively consume and move on from. Bennett sees TV as something to be analyzed through a critical lens. In order to discuss media in a deeper way, she runs a blog called MAE. This blog combines feminism and media in order to create a more nuanced view of both.

Bennett’s blog is named for acclaimed 1920s actress and screenwriter Mae West, who served as an inspiration for her blog. As a playwright, West pushed people’s buttons with the content she wrote. Challenging thoughts with West’s material was a controversial yet interesting aspect of West’s career. The idea of challenging people’s preconceptions through sexuality and humor was what made West a powerful figure. Although West is not the focus of this blog, she is the catalyst.

The mission statement of the blog is, in part, to bring to light shows that star complex, edgy, and powerful women. Using a laid back style of analysis of how feminism affects the media to bring forward new ways of thinking.

According to Bennett’s mission statement on her blog, “men are presented as active agents who are the ones who possess and conquer women.”

Showcasing women as powerful agents in their own right brings to light the often overlooked aspect of media: women as main characters who stand strong on their own rights without depending on men to drive their stories forward. Although it is noticeable to Bennett that more and more women are in the forefront of shows, she believes discussion regarding feminism is still important. People should be part of the discussion of how women are treated. Information is key to understanding the reasons behind why women should be more present in media, which can ultimately lead to empowerment.

“Media is still inherently unbalanced with regard to women, and the ideas represented should be equally as focused on women as well as men,” Bennett says.

Bennett wishes to further explore the power of women in media, so she brings forward examples of complex female characters. She uses lists to draw connections between different characters and their traits within different media created by the same showrunner. Bennett also focuses on different aspects of media through rants, musings, and specific meaningful quotes. Her style of analysis is casual yet insightful.

She doesn’t want to focus on jargon in her discussion to be as inclusive as possible. The focus on Bennett’s thoughts on characters and how these characters exist within their media makes for an interesting, nuanced read.

The kinds of characters Bennett is most interested in discussing are women who are complex.

“When I say “complex” female characters, I mean characters who are more than stereotypical passive damsel in distress. Male characters are always able to be well rounded, but women aren’t. I want to bring forward women who are flawed and also strong, including intellectualism, emotional resilience, and physical strength,” Bennett explains.

The desire to hone in on women who are diverse is a driving force behind the blog. She knows that there’s an importance to showcasing women in multiple ways, because women in real life are able to act in a multitude of ways. Bennett brings to life an intersectional approach. There are characters mentions mentioned who are of different sexualities, races, socio-economic status and ways of life. The common factor between all of these women is their strength.

“Strong is the wrong word to describe the kind of women I want to see in media,” Bennett explains.

She goes on to use the example of Buffy Summers from ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer.’ What makes Buffy interesting isn’t because of her powers as The Slayer, but because she is a normal teenage girl who just so happens to be The Slayer. Making a note of unique characters beyond their weaknesses or strengths is her way of combating the unbalanced nature of media.

In short, Bennett’s blog is a force of nature.

Read, comment, and follow her blog at She also has a Facebook page for MAE,


Paloma Bennett’s blog analyzes, discusses, and suggests television programs and films that feature female characters that stand strong on their own rights without depending on men to drive their stories forward.
POSTED JAN. 7, 2016, 9:09 AM

Link to the page where Nicole’s article is officially on the Santa Monica Mirror:

Update on Deborah Attoinese Interview

If you remember Deborah Attoinese discussed her short film project Girl Knight during our interview. Here is a message that Deborah sent me recently:

Dear Friends,
We are thrilled to announce the Official Launch of our Kickstarter Campaign
for GIRL KNIGHT a new short film by writer-director Deborah Attoinese.



Sixteen-year-old ISABEL is not your ordinary knight. She clanks around her lonely life trapped in her own armor
until she meets DELIAH, a goth princess, in detention at school. Edging around each other at first, these two
wounded souls learn to love by finding the courage to let their guard down.




Gwyneth Horder-Payton Interview

Here is a recording of an interview I did with television producer and director Gwyneth Horder-Payton. She just came of executive producing the television show Tyrant(2010-). Gwyneth has directed television shows like Justified(2010-2015), Once Upon a Time (2011-), Sons of Anarchy(2008-2014), Battlestar Galactica(2004-2009), and The Shield(2002-2008). If you want to know more about the production side of television you should listen to this one. Gwyneth is an engaging intelligent filmmaker.

I recorded this interview over a telephone so please excuse any of the static sounds.  You should still be able to hear Gwyneth clearly.

Varda Bar-Kar Interview

Last week, I interviewed the talented thoughtful filmmaker Varda Bar-Kar a.k.a. my mother. Filmmaker Dennis Leight filmed the entire interview, then edited it into the video below. I hope you all enjoy Bar-Kar discussing topics from how she was treated in male dominated sets to her philosophy on directing features and shorts.

Here are some links leading you to Varda Bar-Kar’s work. If you want to learn more about her documentary Big Voice like the Facebook page:

Varda Bar-Kar’s Website:

Varda Bar-Kar’s IMBD:

Varda Bar-Kar’s Youtube channel:

Big Voice Facebook:

Big Voice Youtube Channel:

Kimberly Jentzen Interview

Last Friday, I interviewed the amazing director, screenwriter, and acting coach Kimberly Jentzen. She has written and directed projects such as Reign (2012),#Girl Crush (2015), and Of Earth and Sky (1996). We discussed subjects from her philosophy as a director and acting coach to her being a poet. I hope you enjoy listening to Kimberly Jentzen’s interview. She is an engaging intelligent and creative being. In a week or two I will being posting a link to a crowdsourcing website where she is raising funds for her next awesome project so please look out for that:

Links to Jentzen’s different sites:

  1. Kimberly Jentzen’s Website: (If you are in the LA area and interested in acting classes check this website out.)
  2. Kimberly Jentzen’s IMBD:

Kimberly Jentzen as an acting coach discussing finding or playing emotions:

Please follow my blog MAE.

Deborah Attoinese Interview

Deborah Attoinese is  Independent Filmmaker. I think seeing independent films is as important as seeing Hollywood movies. We must push ourselves to explore all sorts of media. Below here is a written interview I did with Attoinese. She is extremely insightful and creative.

1. What is it like being a female director and producer in Hollywood?

I tend to direct much more just outside of the “system” so I’ll have
to answer this question from that angle. I can say that
I feel being female/director producer in any system or world
is a strange and wonderful thing. Being a director for me feels very much
like they only thing that makes sense to me — it’s so hard and all
encompassing in your life that if I didn’t really feel that I honestly don’t
think I’d be doing it. Actually I’m sure I wouldn’t be.

For me the magic is taking all the elements of story and feelings and visuals and
mixing them with music and light and anything else you can find to throw in the mix
and hopefully make something that’s a little bit different and touches people somewhere.
If it doesn’t touch me somewhere-then I really can’t do it. I’m just not interested.

2. Do you pick jobs and create films based on being a woman? How do you play with gender and sexuality politics in your films?

I pick jobs/projects based on what the material is trying, wanting, needing
to say. I would so much rather be just a filmmaker vs. a female filmmaker
but we as a society are not there yet.

I play with gender and sexuality by often writing from the male point of view –
I find it incredibly freeing and interesting switching those roles around. I think the art of reversal is so necessary in art and life. What is that person in that situation thinking or feeling?

3. Can you talk more about your short film Girl Knight?

Girl Knight will be my sixth short film and is driving me crazy.
It has taken me around my inner world several times now as
it’s a very personal. It’s a story about surrender. About letting
down your armor and being in that vulnerable position where you
find incredible strength if you can allow yourself to go there. It’s about
being uncomfortable in your openness. I am very excited by it and terrified by
it alt the same time. I’m looking forward to making it soon.

4. How do you build complex female characters of all sexualities and races?

Again I’m not so much looking at anything other than the inner story of a
character first. I want to know what movie is playing in their head what
script are they living out – what is their story. And how does that effect
the story of the film.

Then how they choose to identify themselves, their sexuality, gender what
they need to “be” in the world for the world to make sense – then
that becomes very important. But first I want to know what’s inside,
what’s needing fixing, what makes them tick, are they ticking?

5. Are there any new projects that you would like to talk about?

I have a mini-series. I’m about to start that I’m incredibly excited about
again creating a world where everyone is looking for something
underneath what appears on the surface. I can’t really say much
more than this – but maybe you’ll interview me again!

Link to Deborah Attoinese’s Website:


Matia Karrell Interview

Today I did a short Skype interview with director Matia Karrell. She has directed films and television shows like Behind the Red Door (2003), Army Wives (2007), and The West Wing (1999).

Right now Karrell is working on developing a television mini series called Fly Girls about World War II military women pilots. Here is a link to the Facebook page if you want to find out more:

You can find the audio recording of my interview with Matia Karrell below.

We discuss women directors breaking through the boundaries of only being hired to direct character pieces, the fact that Karrell was a modern dancer, and her experiences directing television. I hope you enjoy the interview. She is an insightful intelligent woman. Later on I will put up a crowdsourcing website link for her new project Fly Girls, which I hope you donate to. We need more television shows run by women about complex female characters.

Fly Girls Trailer:

Nancy Schreiber Interview

This Saturday I did an interview with Nancy Schreiber who has been a cinematographer for film and television since the late 70’s. I interviewed Schreiber through Skype which is why you will hear some Skype bubbly noises at the start of the recording. Nancy Schreiber is super smart and funny. I had a lovely time talking  talking with her. Schreiber has an extensive portfolio of projects.

Nancy Schreiber has filmed the television/ web series The Client List, Lauren, Blue, In Plain Sight, Ghost Whisperer, and The ComebackI hope you enjoy this interview we discuss a whole host of topics from wanting to be labeled an cinematographer not a woman cinematographer to issues of ageism in Hollywood today.

This is the recording of the interview I did with Schreiber. I was in my room and Nancy Schreiber was outside of a cafe. (For clarification the DGA stands for the Directors Guild of America).:

Link to Nancy Schreiber’s IMBD:
Link to Nancy Schreiber’s Website: http://www.nancyschreiber.comp76874426-3