Patty Jenkins gave Cathy Yan pep talks to help boost her confidence before she made her first studio movie, Birds of Prey.
Yan premiered her indie directorial debut, Dead Pigs, at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, and three months later, she was announced as the director of the DC Comics movie, starring Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.
She felt a lot of anxiety about becoming the second woman – and first Asian woman – to direct a DC film, so she turned to the first female DC director, Jenkins, for advice.
“I had impostor syndrome, as I think many people do. I came from an indie world and I had a matter of months between my first feature premiering at Sundance and then running the ship on Birds of Prey. There was an element of: Do I belong here? Can I do this? Like all the insecurities that anyone would have,” Yan told Vanity Fair. “I was working with such a high calibre of people, Oscar nominees, and people I admired from afar in the industry for such a long time. There is this moment when you go, ‘Wow, they’re all looking at me.’”
She added that Jenkins’ pep talks made her feel “able to lean into that confidence and say, ‘Yeah, damn right they should be looking at me. I’m the director!’ It was just that little boost of confidence I think that was much needed.”
In the feature, the Wonder Woman filmmaker shared that her own role models included directors like Penny Marshall, Mimi Leder, Kathryn Bigelow, and Nora Ephron, and insisted that she doesn’t believe female filmmakers do a fundamentally different job than their male counterparts.
“I think the only thing that’s important about being a woman filmmaker is knowing what not to pay attention to, and just try to blow through it,” the director stated. “Being a filmmaker is being a filmmaker.”
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