Women of the Chicago Creative Community Speak Out in the Wake of Roe v. Wade Ruling

The Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade has sent shockwaves through the entire country, and women in the Chicago creative community are speaking out. From chief advertising executives to network television producers to independent filmmakers, all facets of the greater creative collective shared with SCREEN their personal reactions to the ruling as well as the road ahead for women in America.

Let’s hear from visionary leaders and creatives in the film, television, and advertising community of Chicago…

Dani Jackson, VP of Multicultural Marketing at Edelman

Dani Jackson, VP of Multicultural Marketing at Edelman

As a woman, I am alarmed by the Supreme Court’s Friday decision regarding Roe v. Wade. I’m grateful to be living in Illinois where I feel a little secure, but I know that our rights as women and diverse people across the spectrum are in danger. These are indeed trying times where those of us that believe in human rights will have to remain vigilant and lean on each other when we are weary. 

Megan Lally, Managing Partner at Highdive

The decision to overturn Roe v Wade is appalling in many ways. What it means to women in need, the future of women’s rights in this country, and what else is possible from a Supreme Court that does not represent the population. We took a giant step backwards. There’s a lot of work to do here.

Daniele Bernstein, Co-Producer, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Chicago P.D.

As a freshman in high school, my first film project was a documentary on abortion rights for an assignment on current events. I felt profoundly grateful to live in a country that protected my right to make choices about my body, and it was inconceivable at that time that I would live to see the dismantling of human rights and women’s rights in America. I thought there was a trajectory, a momentum, an inevitable push forward, and I had just been lucky to find myself in the path of it in that time and place. We are taught that progress is natural and history is a series of events, but this decision is proof that progress is a battle, and we have to fight not simply to attain it, but to maintain it as well. As a community with a vast network of loud voices and considerable influence, we have the platform and power to magnify those voices, to utilize that influence, and a unique responsibility to stay vigilant in the battle for progress. 

Jennifer Reeder, Writer-Director, Berlinale Selection Knives and Skin

Filmmaker Jennifer Reeder Photo Credit: Kinga Michalska

The overturn of Roe v. Wade is a sinister leap that will set us back light years and surely have an impact on all aspects of gender equity. I am a working filmmaker and mother, which is a gig I cherish but know directly is not for everyone and even more so know is not a combination that garners unconditional and consistent respect among other professionals in my field.

Dessa Carter, Owner and Director of Business, Mode Project

I was not surprised by the decision yet I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck today. To know my daughter today has less rights than her mother and grandmother is appalling. As a community, ad agencies, brands and all industry workers must stand together, rise up, influence and fight this extremist agenda.

Colette Ghunim, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Mezcla Media Collective

As a the leader of an organization that works to build equity and access for women and non-binary filmmakers of color, the recent ruling is another challenge our community must face to thrive as creators that have the choice of how we want to live their lives. Over history, we have pushed to be the writers of our own stories, and this is yet another obstacle to allow us to do just that. We will continue to use the power of our cameras to advocate for justice, knowing that art is one of the greatest tools for change. 

Erin Sarofsky, Owner and Executive Creative Director, Sarofsky

Executive Creative Director Erin Sarofsky

To say I am sad or disappointed with the overturning of Roe is beyond an understatement. It in no way captures all of my sadness and in no way communicates my fears for what’s to come. As a business owner I know how dependent the government is on us to generate income for our local communities, our states and our country. So perhaps we in the advertising and entertainment industries choose to work, speak and support states that share our values. Where we spend money is just as important as how we vote. And please, please, please vote.

Lisa Effress, Managing Partner, 11 Dollar Bill

Even though we knew this was coming, it doesn’t make it any easier to accept. I don’t think it’s alarmist to be thinking about what’s going to come next, wondering which ‘right’ is next in line to be taken away.

Mary Angela Munez, Independent Film Producer and Production Coordinator

This is a really scary decision that will have so many unintended consequences. This is now forcing women and children into a system that has limitations on support for medical care, child care, and education. 

Lisa Masseur, Founder and Executive Producer of Tessa Films, President of AICP Midwest Board

AICP Midwest Board President Lisa Masseur

I’m sure many people like me jumped into the film business with hopes of telling meaningful stories. I was on set with director McKenzie Chinn filming a story, A Real One, with that intention on Friday when we learned the news of the overturning of Roe v Wade. Now more than ever, we need to step up and tell the kind of stories that can help change minds and hearts. Women’s rights should not be slipping backwards. We need to fight – with whatever means we have.

Speaking of the project A Real One, let’s hear from the writer and director of this feature film in development, Chicago filmmaker McKenzie Chinn…

McKenzie Chinn, Filmmaker, Sundance Screenwriting Fellow

I learned of the Supreme Courts ruling on Roe v. Wade shortly before calling action on the first take of my short film A Real One. It’s a movie about two young women striving toward a sense of personal agency that society is hellbent on denying them.

Filmmaker McKenzie Chinn

Last week’s ruling is just one of the aggressive injustices that shape and often hinder the lives of people like the characters in my film. Like my characters, those of us committed to our own liberation we will continue finding ways to resist, as well as fellowship and fortitude within that resistance.

But it’s up to us here and now, to resist – to dismantle, reimagine, and reconstruct – on a collective level. That’s going to require courage. That’s going to require moving in love instead of fear.

The Road Ahead

State Senator Sara Feigenholtz sent a heartfelt message to Chicago and Illinois women. “First, know that abortion remains safe and legal in Illinois. Passing HB40 that removed the Illinois trigger law along with the Reproductive Health Care Act protects this right. Our hopelessness should be short lived. We will fight back as we always have. We will help people who need abortions get them. In Illinois, we will bravely regroup and we will organize.”

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