Women’s Day: The Language of the Auteur

November 4, 2023 A DGA Women's Steering Committee Event

On November 4, DGA members gathered in the Los Angeles Theater for a celebration of talented women members of the Guild during the third Women’s Day at the DGA. Hosted by the Women’s Steering Committee (WSC), Women’s Day: The Language of the Auteur, featured a peer-to-peer round table panel discussion with Directors Pamela Adlon (Better Things), Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night), Niki Caro (Mulan), Numa Perrier (Jezebel) and Sarah Adina Smith (Lessons in Chemistry), women Directors with unique cinematic voices whose work is changing the conversation around the craft. The conversation was moderated by Director/WSC Activities & Events Subcommittee Coordinator Mo Perkins (A Quiet Little Marriage).

The afternoon began with a welcome from WSC Co-Chair Shawn Pipkin-West, who introduced a special pre-recorded video message from DGA President Lesli Linka Glatter who said,

“The DGA believes storytelling should be as diverse as the world around us and our work to be a more inclusive union is ongoing.  It shouldn’t be harder for our daughters to direct than for our sons. And the DGA has been fighting for decades to achieve that level-playing field on multiple fronts. Thankfully, things really have changed for women, particularly in episodic television.  But those changes might never have happened if it were not for the creation of the WSC in 1979, when six women within the Guild convened to research the facts surrounding employment opportunities for women Directors. Tonight is a continuation of the great work of the WSC through this panel of auteurs – each with a unique and valuable perspective.”

Pipkin-West was then joined onstage by WSC Co-Chairs Shaz Bennett and Valerie Weiss, who spoke about the four decade history of the WSC and the Guild’s commitment to the Committee’s work on the important issues of diversity, inclusion, education and inspiration.

“The goals of the Women’s Steering Committee are to advance the professional interests of women and nonbinary DGA members and to heighten our visibility and career opportunities. The WSC is dedicated to empowering women in all Guild categories to encourage and promote employment equity, and to help build relationships with women and the entertainment industry.”

After thanking WSC Activities & Events Subcommittee Coordinators Evelyn Belasco, Marie Jamora, Dana Nachman and Mo Perkins and reminding Guild members that all are invited to attend WSC meetings, the Co-Chairs turned things over to the panel.

During the lively and informative conversation, the panelists discussed what it means to be an auteur, where they find inspiration, and what they would love to see more of as storytelling women.

Moderator Perkins kicked things off by framing the conversation around how the panelists initially found their creative voices and spark by sharing personal anecdotes and they answered in kind by sharing experiences from working on their feature debuts to encountering hurdles along the way.

“If you get to a place where you feel really good, and you can create in any environment and in a safe set – there can be a culture shock waiting for you – because the next thing may not be that,” said Adlon. “It is really a thing as women that we have to overcome – to constantly hit walls and roadblocks and expect them. Women have to support women more than anything.”

Caro also revealed the obstacles she encountered initially in her career. “When I made Whale Rider, it worked out really well. But I wasn’t getting a pile of scripts right after. I just ended up trying to get anything that I thought I could do well by.”

Perrier recalled the challenges she encountered during her journey to bring her directorial debut feature, Jezebel, into fruition. “It was rough. I let someone read it and they said there wasn’t anything there. And I believed that. I then started hearing this voice telling me, ‘You gotta make the film.’ So, I pulled those pages out again and read the script again and I submitted it to Tribeca and they selected me. It changed my world. I never gave up.”

Regarding the topic of collaboration, Smith shared the importance of the process rather than the result when collaborating on a project. “I do really feel the process is what we really get in the end. I have come to really value that and focus on that than the result.”

Amirpour shared her belief that building the team can be crucial to success. “I have worked with a lot of different people – but picking the right people – is truly the special part of making a film. Take with you who you want to take through the roughest and most beautiful things to see where you get to.”

Following the panel discussion, WSC Alternate Co-Chair Shawn Rachel Raimist invited all attendees to join the Committee members and panelists for a reception in the DGA’s Los Angeles headquarters atrium where the conversations and celebrations could continue.

See video from this event in the gallery below

About the Panelists:

Pamela AdlonDirector Pamela Adlon
Adlon’s directorial credits include episodes of the award-winning comedy series Better Things, where she also served as co-creator, writer, producer and star. She is making her upcoming feature directorial debut with Babes. She has been a DGA member since 2016. 


Ana Lily AmirpourDirector Ana Lily Amirpour
Amirpour’s made her feature directorial debut with the award-winning A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Her other directorial credits include the features, The Bad Batch and Mona Lisa and The Blood Moon; and an episode of the anthology series, Cabinet of Curiosities. She has been a DGA member since 2015.


Niki CaroDirector Niki Caro
Caro’s directorial credits include the award-winning feature, Whale Rider; as well as the features The Mother, Mulan, The Zookeeper’s Wife, A Heavenly Vintage, North Country and McFarland, USA; and the pilot for the series Anne with an E. She has been a DGA member since 2005. 


Numa PerrierDirector Numa Perrier
Perrier’s directorial credits include the award-winning features Jezebel and The Perfect Find; and episodes of the series Unprisoned, Young Rock, Reasonable Doubt, Queen Sugar, Cinema Toast and The Wonder Years. Perrier joined the DGA in 2019. 


Sarah Adina SmithDirector Sarah Adina Smith
Smith’s directorial credits include the award-winning features Buster’s Mal Heart and The Midnight Swim; as well as the features The Drop and Birds of Paradise; episodes of the mini-series Lessons in Chemistry; and episodes of the series Looking for Alaska, Hanna, Legion, Room 104 and Wrecked. She has been a DGA member since 2015. 

Mo PerkinsDirector Mo Perkins (moderator)
Perkins’s directorial credits include the award-winning feature A Quiet Little Marriage; the feature The Last Time You Had Fun; and episodes of the series ManifestFuturestates and I Ship It. Perkins joined the DGA in 2019 and serves as a Co-Coordinator of the Women’s Steering Committee’s Activities & Events Committee.  


The Women's Steering Committee (WSC) was created to advance the professional interests of its members, and to heighten their visibility and career opportunities in the entertainment industry. The WSC currently promotes diversity through sponsoring networking events, screenings and seminars, and fosters relationships between the members to provide support, mentoring and networking opportunities. The WSC’s current Co-Chairs are Shaz Bennett, Valerie Weiss and Shawn Pipkin-West and the alternate Co-Chair is Rachel Raimist. The WSC Activities & Events Committee Co-Coordinators are Evelyn Belasco, Marie Jamora, Dana Nachman and Mo Perkins.

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