An Interview With The Brilliant Women Behind ‘Or Die Trying’

A series about women in film, made by women in film.

I know it sounds too good to be true, but it’s really happening.

Or Die Trying follows the stories of four millennial women working in the Los Angeles film industry. The series has just recently started production, and it looks like the representation that women in film deserve. What is especially interesting about the production of this series, is that the producers have committed to having their team made up of at least 85% women in an effort to fight the gender inequality within the film industry.

I caught up with three of filmmakers behind the series to talk about Or Die Trying; Camila Martins (Director), Myah Hollis (Creator/Executive Producer), and Sarah Hawkins (Executive Producer). We discussed the inspiration behind Or Die Trying, millennials, and role models; keep on reading to see the full interview!

When did you decide to start making this series? And how long have you been putting this idea together?

Myah Hollis: We came up with the concept for OR DIE TRYING in April of 2015, so it’s been a little over a year and a half in the making. From the beginning, it’s been this really organic thing that continues to evolve into something more complex and intricate with time. It’s really cool to look at the different stages we’ve been through, and see how the story has developed into what it is today.

Where did you find your inspiration for Or Die Trying? And is any of it based off of real life stories/experiences?   

MH: This is one of those projects where the best inspiration comes from typical, everyday life. I was inspired by not only my experiences and those of the women around me, but also by the universal truths about what it is to be a woman; specifically in Hollywood, but also just in general.

To develop the four main characters authentically, I really wrote for each of our voices and personalities so that the transition from ourselves to our characters would be seamless on screen. That’s the luxury of knowing who your lead actors are before you write, which is a privilege that you don’t always get as a writer. 

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Director, Camila Martins and Executive Producer, Myah Hollis. Source: (@odt_series).

What was your experience like in crowdfunding the project? Was it difficult to be vulnerable and say “we need your help”?

Sarah Hawkins: Crowdfunding is never easy, but we found that crafting our message in
such a way that was more of an invitation as opposed to a plea, really allowed for people to join a movement instead of simply donating. The moment you move away from personal inhibitions and look at the community you’re building, that’s when things get truly exciting.  By supporting our series, contributors were also supporting closing the gender gap for women in film.

Do you have any myths or stigmas about the millennial generation that you want to set straight with the series?

SH: I think that there is a general myth that all millennials are aimless; wasting time, energy, and resources. That’s not the case for millennial women in film, like us. We are
driven, ambitious, and tireless in our pursuit. We know what we want, and are fighting for that daily.

What do you think Or Die Trying is going to do about female representation in the media industry?  What will viewers take away from the series?

CM: Something I love about Or Die Trying is that this is a story about women, created by women, and portrayed by women who have lived those words written on the page. That makes for a truly authentic representation of women, which I believe the current entertainment landscape lacks. On this project, we are getting to portray who we are, no masks and no strings attached. And because of this honesty, the viewer gets to relate to something real.

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Source: (@odt_series) on Instagram.

Who is your biggest female role model? In the media industry, or elsewhere.

MH: Shonda Rhimes has been incredibly influential in my life over the past few years. She has set the bar of what it is to be a powerful woman in the industry, who owns her voice and her vision, and has used it to reshape the landscape of TV. Her work is an endless source of inspiration for me as a writer, and her story is one that I really relate to.

SH: Amy Sherman-Palladino. She never sacrificed her audience’s intellect by watering down her dialogue in the show Gilmore Girls. She knew her audience would love the witty, fast-paced, pop-culture referencing relationship, and she stuck to it and created one of the best examples of truly feminist TV shows to date.

Camila Martins: I am a huge fan of Nora Ephron and–to throw it way way back–I am forever grateful to Frances Marion for her trailblazing for women in Hollywood in the 1920’s/30’s. If you don’t know who Frances Marion is, check out the documentary “Without Lying Down”. I am sure you will love it!


You can keep updated with Or Die Trying by following them on Twitter or Instagram (@odt_series), or on their website; www.odtseries.com

Thank you so much to Camila Martins, Sarah Hawkins, and Myah Hollis for talking to me about their new series. I am so excited to watch it, and I hope you all are too after reading this interview!

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