Starz Outlander and History’s Vikings show their women power at The Women’s Image Awards
Last night, women and men from media and entertainment gathered around to celebrate male and female media artists whose work advances the value of women and girls at the 17th annual Women’s Image Awards. Established by The Women’s Image Network, this year’s event honored filmmakers, philanthropists, producers, writers, actresses, and many others involved in the ever-growing industry of entertainment.
This year’s nominees for Best Series, Directing, Producing, and Writing were two of the highest rated geek-centric shows – Starz Outlander and History’s Vikings. Both shows won awards for their strong and well-written image of women on the silver screen. Outlander took home three awards for Outstanding Show Writing (Toni Graphia), Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series (Caitriona Balfe), and Outstanding Drama Series.
Graphia, who won for her writing on the episode ‘The Devil’s Mark’, said of the episode, “I love Geillis Duncan. She was my favorite character, so I knew I wanted to do the episode of her and Claire’s friendship.” She is no stranger to developing strong female roles on television especially in sci-fi, her credits for producing and writing include Battlestar Galactica, Roswell, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
As for the series Outlander, Graphia credits Outlander creator Ronald D. Moore for the women working behind the scenes, “Ron loves strong women. He appreciates strong women. He’s one of those male producers that doesn’t have that kind of ego. He’s not a boy’s club guy. His wife is the costume designer for the show [Terry Dresbach]. She’s a very strong woman. He surrounds himself with strong women. He’s an amazing boss.” She adds, “I’ve worked with him on four shows now and I can never say no to Ron when he asks me to work on a show because I know that I’ll be listened to and have the room to do what I want. He’s fair, honest, and awesome.”
As for History’s biggest television series, Vikings won big with director Helen Shaver winning the award for Outstanding Direction for the episode, ‘The Usurper’. It comes to no surprise that Shaver is amazing at showcasing women in a powerful light when she has directed several shows that feature women in lead roles, including Orphan Black, Revolution, Reign, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Of course, the series showcases tough Viking women, because that’s how it was in that era. Shaver said, “In the Viking world, women were equal, which was pretty fascinating. Women could leave a man. Women had property. It was a pagan world. Women had a lot of power.”
With the upcoming fourth season of the series premiering on February 18th, Shaver, who directed several more episodes, shared there will be much to come from our favorite female characters. “We watched Lagertha go through a lot of things. Aslaug is very complicated. That’s all external power. We get to see the French princess come into her role. She adds, “Episode four and five, the women [develop] hugely. Somebody that you may have just noticed in the background in the first three episodes will emerge to be this huge power.”
In the geek world and in media in general, it’s great to see some kick-ass characters and crew being recognized for creating such positive images for women. Shaver expressed the importance of featuring women. “I think, in all worlds, it’s important for women to see each other. For me and to allow you to see me with my faults, but also with my strengths. It’s like the Achilles heel. Our strength is in the Achilles, but it’s also our weakness. Women are all of those things. It’s as important to show strong women historically because we have always been around. Everybody has a mother. Everyone comes from a woman. The egg and the feminine are the opening, the possibility, and is the universe. It is important for a woman to see the strength of a woman and to see the vulnerability of a woman. And to see the mistakes, not just heroics, because not one of us identify with perfection. We identify with flaws because that is where the beauty lies and that is where our humanity is.”