Women are masters at juggling more than one thing at a time.
It’s no surprise then that there are a number of female multi-hyphenates in the industry that make wearing multiple hats look easy. From Mindy Kaling to Brit Marling, Issa Rae to Michaela Coel, Rashida Jones to America Ferrera, ladies have an innate ability to create and carry a project from vision to completion.
In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we wanted to highlight women in the industry that proudly wear the multi-hyphenate moniker and do it with flying colors. Read on for five powerhouse women making their mark in Hollywood.
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A comedic dynamo, Edi Patterson has been acting in and writing comedy for years. She credits immersing herself in improv as helping her gain confidence and trust in herself as a performer. Edi is a Groundlings Main Company member and has been a guest writer for Saturday Night Live. She currently stars in, writes, and produces on the HBO hit series The Righteous Gemstones, created by Danny McBride.
Check out a sample of Edi’s brilliant comedic writing and acting below in a clip from an episode of The Righteous Gemstones, written by Edi. It features her as Judy Gemstone, singing a song (yep, written by Edi, too!) as her husband BJ, played by actor Tim Baltz, is baptized by Judy’s father, Dr. Eli Gemstone, played by John Goodman:
When asked in an interview with Ron Funches about how she writes comedy not only for herself but also for other actors, Edi had these words of wisdom to offer:
“You want to make the whole thing funny. How boring would it be if you write a sketch with someone and you’re like making sure you say all the funny stuff? …I’m a big fan of high tide raises all boats. That’s where I started learning if I can write something super funny for them, it just helps us.”
Elle-Máijá is a creative force, bringing Indigenous people’s stories to the forefront by forging her path as an Indigenous filmmaker and actor. She is a member of the Kainai First Nation (Blood Tribe, Blackfoot Confederacy) and Sámi from Norway. Elle-Máijá began her career as an actor, then added behind-the-camera work to her repertoire in 2011. She is versed as a writer/director/producer in both narrative and documentary films.
Check out the trailer below for her award-winning feature co-directorial debut alongside Kathleen Hepburn, The Body Remembers When The World Broke Open, which also showcases her talents as a co-writer and actress. The film gives voice to Indigenous women and youth. It won the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award in 2020 and had its world premiere at Berlinale in 2019:
You can watch Elle-Máijá’s latest work as an actor in the sci-fi action thriller Night Raiders. The feature brings light to real historical policies that were imposed on Indigenous peoples. It is available for rent on Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, and AppleTV.
Showing a penchant early on for being a multi-hyphenate, Actor-Writer-Director-Producer Natasha Rothwell initially went to college for journalism and then changed her major to theater. She auditioned for Saturday Night Live but was offered a job as a writer on the show.
In an interview with Jemel Hill, Natasha described her year with SNL as a masterclass in writing comedy. She had to silence her inner critic to write a massive number of sketches on tight deadlines.
Natasha has shared about the complications she faced in the writer’s room as a woman of color, but it was only a matter of months after her contract was up with the sketch comedy series until she began working as a writer, producer, and actor on Issa Rae’s Insecure. She made her television directorial debut with episode 6 of season 5. Check out some of Natasha’s stellar comedic acting as Kelli Prenny in a (NSFW) clip from Insecure:
With several projects in development, Natasha’s production company, Big Hattie Productions, signed a multi-year overall deal with ABC Signature, and we’ll soon see her reprise her role as Rachel in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
If you take one look at America’s IMDb, you’ll see the multi-hyphenate is strong with this one. Her talent ranges from writing, directing, and producing, to mo-cap, voice acting, and stunts. She made her feature directorial debut with The Concessionaires Must Die!, executive produced by Stan Lee. After landing a spot in the WBTVG Directors’ Workshop in 2019, America has worked non-stop as a TV director, currently helming the pilot for Surfside Girls for Apple TV+.
As a voice actor, you may have heard her as Batgirl in the video game Gotham Knights. She’s been the voice behind the Barbie vlog since 2015 and has contributed on the directing side. Check out a bit of America’s voice work below, as “Barbie” talks about her honest thoughts on New Year’s Resolutions:
America’s resume is packed with female-led projects and stories with women empowerment themes. When she’s not on set or performing behind a mic, America actively supports women in film through The Chimaera Project, a non-profit she co-founded that champions women filmmakers.
Sujata Day is an actor, writer, director, and producer that you may know as CeCe from The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and a recurring role on Insecure. With her short Wallflower in 2013, Sujata wrote, directed, and starred in her first film. Her second short, Cowboy and Indian, sold to a major studio for series development with Sujata attached to star and write.
Sujata’s award-winning feature directorial debut, Definition Please, which she also wrote and stars in, started as a sketch that she wrote at the Upright Citizens Brigade in 2015. It stems from her real-life experience as a spelling bee champ. She shared in an interview with POPDUST that she makes projects that are personal to her by starting with a “bud of something real” and then developing it and fictionalizing the story from there. Check out the trailer for Definition Please:
Sujata recently signed with Mosaic, and you can watch her feature, Definition Please, on Netflix. In an interview with NBC Asian America, she encourages other creatives to make their own content:
“There is no excuse right now to not make your own content. Whether you have a cast and a crew, or whether you just wake up and you realize that you have an iPhone or a Samsung or a Google phone. And you can shoot with those things. You can make it happen. You can make videos and put them online and see what happens.”
These multi-talented women are solid proof that holding down multiple roles in the industry and having success is not only possible but sometimes necessary to bring the stories you want to tell to life. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out their work and allow it to inspire your multi-hyphenate storyteller soul.
Joanna Ke is an award-winning, half Taiwanese actor, writer, producer, and trained sword fighter. Her foundation as a creative producer and screenwriter is built on nearly a decade of experience as a professional script reader in development and acquisitions. She studied screenwriting with the late, great Syd Field, and as an actor, has had the honor of working with director Cameron Crowe. Her films have won BEST ACTION and BEST FANTASY awards, and her acting has won BEST PERFORMANCE and BEST VILLAIN accolades.
Wielding her broadsword is a favorite, both on and off camera.