Behind every successful woman is more women who inspired her, lifted her up and supported her throughout her career. This is exactly the case with Mariah Owen, a 22-year-old film producer/actor/writer. We recently caught up with her to talk about what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry, her new film M.F.A. and the five women who shaped her career. Read more about this up-and-coming producer under the cut!
To younger women trying to make it in other male-dominated fields, Mariah offers this classic advice: Stay true to yourself.
“I know that sounds so cliché, but I think you just need to go for it,” she said. “Do your research. Know what you want.”
Most recently, Mariah is headed to South by Southwest to premiere her latest endeavour, M.F.A., a female vigilante thriller that stars Francesca Eastwood. The film addresses the issue of campus rape.
“Campus rape is an issue that needs to be eradicated and I don’t think people realize what an issue it is,” she said. “M.F.A. to me was a really fantastic opportunity to highlight what I stand for and believe in.”
M.F.A. was also an empowering project to work on behind the camera—Mariah was surrounded by a team of women, including a female writer and director.
“I think when women are put in key positions, it changes the set and the project completely,” she said, “[Women] are really inclusive, they work really well together and help to make the crew a wonderful team.”
THE FIVE WOMEN WHO MADE ME
MY MOM, SUZIE
My entire life she raised me and she worked. I think seeing my mom work really really hard, she instilled that in me. She also showed me how to be balanced so you can still have a life and work hard.
MY CHEERLEADING COACH, NATALIE
She’s the most determined individual I’ve met. She’s pretty sassy and hardcore and she’s definitely given it to me at times. She really helped shape me into who I am.
TELEVISION PRODUCER SHONDA RHIMES
Just look at how quickly her production company Shondaland has grown! I really love how she does character development and love how vocal she is about things that matter to her. She stands up wholeheartedly for the things she believes in and respects others even if they don’t have the same opinion as her. I think that’s really important because you’re going to meet people regardless of what industry you’re in who don’t share the same opinion.
DIRECTOR KATHRYN BIGELOW
She’s the first female director to win an Oscar. That’s pretty cool. I think when people think “it’s a female writer, it’s a female director,” they think it has to be a specific marketing strategy and [for this movie], it’s not. The Hurt Locker was just a great movie. Women do have a unique eye for filmmaking. Her attention to detail and how she was able to highlight these stories—especially the story of Osama bin Laden and taking him down—It’s exciting. It’s thrilling. It’s beautiful. It’s shot amazingly.
DIRECTOR PENNY MARSHALL
She was the first women to direct a movie that grossed over $100 million dollars in the U.S. with Big. Although she doesn’t really get a lot of success for being a ground-breaking filmmaker, that’s a huge accomplishment for women. It was the late ’80s and in terms of a production, that’s a feat. It’s amazing what she did, especially when women weren’t really accepted in film making at that time. To have someone come up and do this movie and be celebrated for it makes me think other people can do it too. It doesn’t have to be this earth-shattering story, Big was just something that’s commercial, funny and fun to watch.