PODCAST| Samantha Sartori interviews Yu Gu, director of the film A Woman’s Work.
To listen to the interview, click on the ► icon on the right, just above the picture
At Tribeca Film Festival we meet Yu Gu, a filmmaker and visual artist born in Chongqing, China and raised in Vancouver, Canada. Yu works in both narrative and documentary film, exploring themes of identity, migration, and the individual’s relationship to society. We talked about how she came across cheerleaders being exploited in the NFL and decided to make a movie, first meeting with a group of employment attorneys and then with the women organizing against the teams, starting with Lacy T. against the Oakland Raiders. There is nothing more American than football and cheerleaders, except for unfair treatment in workplace. This is David against Goliath; the fight of poorly-treated workers against the football teams with effectively unlimited amounts of money to defend themselves.
A Woman’s Work: Football and feminism collide in this documentary following former NFL cheerleaders fighting to end the wage theft and illegal employment practices that have persisted in the league for 50 years. In 2013, Lacy T., an Oakland Raiders’ cheerleader, found herself in a mountain of debt at her team’s behest in paying for beauty upkeep, transportation, and clothing while waiting for a single paycheck that would compensate her for less than the legal minimum wage. In 2014, she enlisted a group of all women labor attorneys, LVBH, to sue her team. NFL mascots and water boys are paid more than $60K per season, concession workers are paid the legal minimum wage plus gratuities, while most NFL cheerleaders were unpaid or paid below the legal minimum wage. Women make up nearly 50% of the audience, yet the NFL abuses the only visible women on their field. Lacy T.’s media blitz ignited four more cheerleader lawsuits. Beyond labor code violations, a culture of toxic masculinity was exposed in cheerleader handbooks setting archaic double standards and rules. On the heels of the #metoo movement, over a dozen more lawsuits were filed by NFL cheerleaders exposing myriad stories of sexual harassment. In the wake of lawsuits, minimum wage salaries have been quietly implemented across the NFL, several lawsuits have settled, and California legislation, proposed by an assemblywoman, was signed into law ensuring the fair treatment of cheerleaders of major league teams as employees.
To discover more about the film, click here.