Gender equity is the inevitable topic of conversation when talking about EQUITY, a sharply observed and uncompromising examination of women on Wall Street in the 2010s. And so it was on July 15, 2016 when I talked with director Meera Menon, and co-stars/co-producers Alysia Reiner and Sarah Megan Thomas, who is also one of the co-writers. My first question to them was about their choice to have only women, and women on Wall Street at that, put up the money for the film.
From there it was a discussion about why, or why not, the women in the film smile and the subtle effect that it has on audience perceptions; the unique conundrum of balancing work and life that women face; and dress codes and reverse sexism, and why Reiner and Thomas wanted to take the word “sexy” back.
We finished up with the surprising insights these women received by talking with women in high finance; an insight into the glamor, or not, of filmmaking with a story about finding the right chocolate chip cookie for a pivotal scene;, and how mountain climbing is one of the great equalizers.
EQUITY is their film about money, ambition, and what both of them do to ethics. Anna Gunn stars as Naomi Bishop, a senior investment banker with her eye on a promotion and an unfortunate incident in her recent past that might keep her from it. She pins her hopes for advancement on an IPO from a hi-tech firm with a putatively unbreakable security wall that will make or break her. It’s also an opportunity for her assistant, one of the firm’s vice-presidents played by Thomas, to move up in the firm after two years of being undercompensated for her work. In this world of high-stakes money and power, competence is less important than perception, and relationships, personal and professional, are less about goals and more about the psychological warfare that provokes paranoia, and sees the implied insult in a chocolate chip cookie deficient in the number of chips in it. Thomas and Reiner co-star with James Purefoy, Craig Bierko, Margaret Colin, James Naughton, Sophie von Hasselberg, Lee Tergesen, and Samuel Roukin. Menon directed from a script by Amy Fox, which is written from a story by Thomas, Reiner, and Fox.