By Leah Curney
New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) member Misha Calvert’s latest series, Step Into My Office, is a new dark comedy that reimagines workplace harassment with sexist female bosses interviewing aspiring young male employees. After the series launch on August 29, 2019, fellow NYWIFT member Leah Curney interviewed Calvert and her collaborators about their experiences and insights.
What drew you to this project?
Ashley Menard: (Episode 1 – “Alexis”): I read the script and thought this is provocative and the right time.
Taylor Coriell (Episode 3 – Director): Misha. She’s so prolific and her work has such a bite to it, such a specific point of view, that when she asked me to direct an episode…. how could I say no?!
What do you hope audiences will take away from this series?
Lisann Valentin (Episode 2 – “Dr. Brenda Lopez”): Humor lets us talk about things that we don’t want to talk about, and while it can be funny or even odd to see women with such bad behavior, I hope it gives people pause when they remember that these stories are real and that they happen(ed) to women. Truth be told, versions of this have happened to men too. And so I hope the big takeaway is that it’s not OK. It’s not OK to treat people this way, ever.
Taylor Coriell: I hope it shows women just how ridiculous the behavior we put up with is and empowers them to speak up for themselves when they feel something isn’t right. I hope it shows our male viewers the extent to which women are preyed upon. I hope it opens their eyes to new solutions to how they can alter their behavior, even in small ways, to ally themselves with us, and help even the playing field for their female+ friends and colleagues on this most basic level.
Ashley Menard: That the time is up, and with more women and diversity, new stories will be told – rich stories like this one that make you think.
What was one of your favorite moments during the making of this series?
Misha Calvert (Writer/Creator): Watching women cry in the audience is deeply moving. Hearing men say these episodes are “unrealistic” is also moving, in another way.
Ashley Menard: Working with Misha, she’s a gift to cinema. She had a very clear idea of what she wanted the character to be and she ripped away some of my excess fluff to get to the root of a person. When I look at the show, I marvel at the precision of her vision.
What’s one practical thing people can do to combat sexual harassment – in the workplace or elsewhere?
Lisann Valentin: For me, the most practical thing I have done when confronted with harassing behavior has been to name the behavior and to name my feeling: “When you said/did X, it made me feel disrespected/demeaned/unsafe.” Admittedly, this wasn’t easy. But it should be the norm to call it by its name, as opposed to the norm of silence and shame.
Ashley Menard: Bottom line: consent is necessary, not optional. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
Taylor Coriell: Speak up. We’ve been conditioned as women to go out of our way to make everyone else comfortable at the expense of our well-being and safety, and while I think being polite and firm is the best way to be heard, do whatever you can to be sure that you’ve not only been heard, but acknowledged.
New episodes of Step Into My Office premiere every Thursday through September 26th. Watch current episodes online at https://www.stepintomyoffice.show. You can learn more about and connect with Calvert on Instagram @MishaCalvert and at MishaCalvert.com.
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