April 5th, 2018

Empowerment, persistence, strength. These are just some of the themes that spread throughout our west coast studio during International Women’s Day Week 2018. 

Whether practicing self-love with Rebecca Regnier (Founder, Team Flawsome), wearing pins (see graphic above) designed by our very own Eunhae Yoo (a Runner here at The Mill LA), or listening to an all-female playlist whilst sipping on coffee crafted by Eileen Hassi Rinaldi (Head Roaster, Ritual), our halls roared #ShePower.

To top off the celebrations, we had the pleasure of sitting down with some of our studio’s many impressive ladies to chat about a multitude of topics, including how they’ve tackled adversity in the workplace, what inspires them, how they celebrate themselves and so much more.

Scroll to read their thoughts!

Liz Browne, Facilities Manager


Can you give an example of how you’ve overcome adversity in the workplace?

Coming into job where you don’t know exactly how to do it—that’s that is a big issue in adversity that a lot of people deal with; people expect you to know everything. I think in this current day especially. And that’s kind of our daily battle, to say when we don’t know something and stand up for ourselves. And I think women are expected not to know, so in a sense it makes it feel easier to say it. Sometimes I think men have a harder time letting their ego down for a moment to say that they don’t know how to do something.  

How can men contribute to women’s equality in the workplace? 

A lot of men love their mothers but don’t understand what it’s like to work with a woman or what that interaction is, and there are constant daily biases. It’s only going to take time for women to feel equal and to keep fighting and doing what they’ve done. And getting to know people—understanding that those relationships between men and women are just as crucial.

How do you celebrate yourself? 

I’m a physical person. I have a very strict yoga practice which I do four days a week, and it’s actually one of the biggest ways I honor myself.

It’s my time. Feeling strong, being strong, having a practice, being dedicated. 

Fran Benjamin, R&D


How do you encourage women to pursue their goals?

I try to give back to the community, to the people who are younger than me. I’ve been giving a scholarship for more than 20 years; now it’s kind of a STEM scholarship, but I was doing that before STEM was a thing. Any science the woman is studying—that’s what the scholarship is for.

How can men contribute to women’s equality? 

Definitely inviting women to participate. Sometimes women wait to be invited. A lot of times guys will say, “Why didn’t that person just jump in?” Well, they didn’t jump in because they didn’t feel comfortable, they didn’t know that was ok and they were waiting for the invitation. So, I would say to women, don’t wait because you’ll be waiting forever. 

When I first started here at The Mill, we were doing some VR research. I invited all the women to come and try the VR equipment. The thing that I learned was, you know, some women are taller, some shorter, so with some of the simulations they were actually looking up in the VR. I’m sure the people who designed it were mostly men who were taller, and they didn’t think about that at all. Because we do VR projects here, that observation was really informative for me.

What advice would you give to women trying to get into male-dominated fields?

Be persistent. Don't take no for an answer. Keep going. And you need to make sure that you have support--you can't just do it in a vacuum, it's a team effort. 

Becky Porter, Head of 2D, Creative Director/VFX Supervisor


Who are some women who you champion?

My grandma. She was really good at valuing the simple things. It was never a conversation until really late in her life when I saw this little pile of pebbles in her house and she said, “Whenever I go to a beach, I can’t help but pick one up.” When she passed, the one thing I wanted was one of her pebbles. She was inspiring because she didn’t let the noise get in the way; she paid attention to the simple gifts that life can give you. 

Enca Kaul, Director of Production 


How do you create a supportive and inclusive environment at The Mill? 

I try to lead by example and I look for opportunities where I can support people who need an extra push. So, in meetings for example, if a woman makes a suggestion I’ll try to reiterate that and give credit. I think sometimes women aren’t given the credit they deserve, so it’s my job as more of a manager now to highlight those accomplishments. 

What is something you hope is different in your daughters’ lives than it was in yours? 

I’m obviously very conscious of the fact that I have two amazing ladies, and I hope that they can learn from my struggles and my accomplishments. And that they grow up believing they have the right to do whatever they want, and they’re treated with the respect that all women and girls deserve. And that it’s not even a question in their mind that they can’t do something because they’re a girl. 

What advice would you give to women trying to get into male-dominated fields?

I think if you have honest relationships with people and you’re true to yourself, you’ll just rise that way. It’s also about finding your voice at the table. A lot of times you’re the only woman there, so you feel intimated and sometimes you are overlooked. It’s just about being persistent and being heard. 

Sandra Dow, Head of MCR 


Was there a time where you had to overcome adversity in the workplace? 

I’m lucky that I’ve been at The Mill since I was a runner, so I’ve wrangled my way into departments that are mostly male-dominated. When people learn where I work, they automatically assume I’m a producer – because women certainly can’t have anything to do with engineering! I think that’s the biggest thing for me; perception of generalized stereotypes. But at the same time, it can be good, being the only girl. You do get remembered.

Maybe part of it is that I don’t think it’s a problem, therefore I’m not thinking anyone else should think it’s a problem. So I just go into it like, why wouldn’t I be doing this? 

What are some ways men can contribute to women’s equality in the workplace? 

Just being open to the fact, or to the idea that a female can do the same job, and giving them the chance. Let them prove you wrong. It shouldn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man. Can you do the job? That’s what matters. 

What is something you would want to change for women in our industry?

I think the most difficult thing as a woman is getting your foot in the door, and that really comes back to education. I went to an all-girls school. That was invaluable because I got to do sciences, I got to do technology, I got to do woodwork, I got to do what would be considered “boys’ subjects”, and it wasn’t weird for me to do well in those because I was in a class full of girls. It was just a subject, you just studied it, and I think there should be more of that.

If a girl wants to get into can be difficult. Not because they’re not interested or they don’t want to do it, but because they just kind of get pushed off of it. And I think that’s a shame. So, I think the education needs to start at a lower level to get more women interested in these subjects, and more aware that they can even do that stuff. It’s not a boy thing. Anyone can do it. 

How do you celebrate yourself?

Cheesecake and shoes!

Snapshots of our conversations with Liz, Fran, Becky, Enca and Sandra were originally published as part of a special #IWD2018 Instagram series on @mill_la.

All photos courtesy of Brett Lopinsky (2D Artist at The Mill LA)