Today’s audiences want more stories that represent the broad spectrum of diverse voices that we really are – and Hollywood has noticed. Genres that have been mainly written from the white male cis perspective are rife with opportunity for a range of new narratives with a diverse screenwriter at the helm. One genre that’s long been hungry for the female gaze is action.
We love to see a kick-ass woman on the screen (hello, Wonder Woman – or my favorite, Xena!). When action scenes and characters are written by women, the stories are inherently shaped by a fresh perspective. Female writers and directors in the action genre offer unique takes that can lead to ground breaking action set pieces and a memorable cast.
If you’re shy about writing action, let these female screenwriters inspire you with their bold stories and strong character development that’s at the heart of their scripts. These six brilliant female screenwriters are creating some of the most compelling action scenes in Hollywood today.
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Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey, Bumblebee)
Starting out as a development executive, Christina Hodson gained notoriety for her writing after her first feature script, Shut In, made the 2012 Black List. Since then, Hodson became known for her dynamic female characters within the action genre with Bumblebee, which expanded the Transformers universe. Her most recent feature was in the DC universe with the Margot Robbie-starring Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, directed by Cathy Yan.
Check out this Birds of Prey warehouse fight scene, showing Harley Quinn kicking some serious ass:
Hodson is currently writing two more DC Extended Universe films, Batgirl and The Flash, as well as a Pirates of the Caribbean spin-off, starring Margot Robbie. She’s also partnered with Robbie on their Lucky Exports Pitch Program, an action-focused screenwriters’ program for women. In its inaugural year, all six writers in the program successfully sold their action scripts: Sue Chung, Charmaine DeGraté, Eileen Jones, Faith Liu, Dagny Looper, and Maria Sten.
Amanda Silver (Mulan, Jurassic World, Planet of the Apes)
In partnership with her husband, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver has helped revive action-packed franchises as a screenwriter and producer. Jurassic World and Planet of the Apes are two reboots that have Silver to thank for their success. Among her latest writing work, she brought another fan favorite back to the big screen with Disney’s live-action Mulan.
Check out this action sequence from Jurassic World with the mighty Indominous Rex:
With her strong resume of bringing life back into franchises rife with action, it will be exciting to see what Silver brings to James Cameron’s sci-fi epic Avatar 3, as a co-writer on the film with Cameron and Jaffa.
Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Captain Marvel, Tomb Raider)
Geneva Robertson-Dworet also helped to revive an action franchise as a co-writer on 2018’s Tomb Raider, starring Alicia Vikander and directed by Roar Uthaug. She also wrote the screenplay for Marvel’s first female-led superhero film, Captain Marvel.
Check out Captain Marvel as she hunts down and fights a Skrull:
It’s no surprise that Robertson-Dworet was asked to write the upcoming feature Gotham City Sirens. The DC Extended Universe script follows three of Gotham City’s most notorious female criminals on one of their most dangerous missions. She’s also writing a sci-fi action screenplay, Artemis, based on the novel of the same name, with directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller attached.
Laeta Kalogridis (Alita: Battle Angel, Terminator: Genisys, Birds of Prey TV Series, Altered Carbon)
With experience in film and TV, Laeta Kalogridis is the creator, writer, and executive producer behind both the Birds of Prey and Altered Carbon series. She co-wrote Terminator Genisys and James Cameron’s cyberpunk-action film Alita: Battle Angel, directed by Robert Rodriguez.
Check out the trailer for Alita: Battle Angel:
Kalogridis will next write Cleopatra, starring Gal Gadot with Patty Jenkins directing.
Jackie May (Van Helsing, Another Life)
Television writer, director, and producer Jackie May is a screenwriter with a solid resume in the TV world. When it comes to action, May has served as executive producer on 39 episodes and written 11 episodes of Netflix’s fantasy horror drama Van Helsing. She also wrote an episode of the Katee Sackhoff-starring sci-fi action-adventure Another Life.
Check out a preview of Van Helsing (Season 3 Episode 10), titled “Outside World,” which May wrote and directed:
Ali Adler (Supergirl, No Ordinary Family, Chuck)
Ali Adler has extensive experience in television. She co-created DC Comics’ Supergirl series centered on Superman’s cousin, Kara Zor-El. Adler penned several episodes of No Ordinary Family, a sci-fi dramedy centered on a family of superheroes that discover their newfound abilities after a plane crash. Adler also wrote and executive produced the action-comedy series Chuck.
Check out the trailer for the first season of Supergirl, which is now on its sixth and final season:
Women who write action
There’s an ocean of untapped talent among female screenwriters when it comes to the action genre. These incredible women have paved the way for more female screenwriters, directors, and producers to enter a genre that’s largely been closed off to women. Allow them to inspire you to pen that action script or write that action sequence.
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.