For women particularly though, we know the world is still a boys club and so you have to be confident and you don’t want to be overly aggressive because then people say bad things about you and yet if you’re not, you don’t get through the sort of the clutter of everything. One of the cool things that we teach about is we all know “The Hero’s Journey” – which is what I talked about with Luke Skywalker – but “The Heroine’s Journey” is a thing that we teach right and Maureen Murdoch came up with that. “The Heroine’s Journey”, of course, is about a female character but it’s about what women learn from society which is generally if you want to succeed you have to act like a man. So you separate – your beginning of that movie – you separate from your girlishness and you start doing dude stuff and by the time you’re done with the movie you figure it out, no the only way to actually get forward is to use the talents that I have, perhaps inherently, because I’m a female and when I reconnect to how female I am then I succeed. So to me, that’s what women have to remember to do.
The Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting is building a relationship with the Autry Museum of the American West since both organizations are devoted to bringing out more diverse and untold stories. Last year we were able to take our cohort of graduating MFA candidates to the museum’s theatre for a showing of Michael Wilson’s Salt of the Earth and we had plans to present a film of our choice this year – but of course the pandemic changed all that. Instead, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis asked me if I would sit for an interview about female screenwriters in the western genre and so “When Women Wrote Westerns” came to be a part of their “What Is a Western? Interview Series”.
I had a great time discussing so many wonderful women writers – from Jeanne MacPherson to D.C. Fontana to Edna Ferber to Emily Andras. If you love westerns I suggest you watch Josh’s other interviews covering everything from the work of Native Americans in Western movies to films in the western-horror hybrid. —
What this entire presentation
As part of a series exploring the significance of the Western genre and the ways in which the movies shape our understanding of the American West, Autry Curator Josh Garrett-Davis interviews Professor Rosanne Welch about the women screenwriters of Hollywood and their contributions to the Western genre.