LILLY

Half The Pay

Twice The Fight

 

the film

LILLY is a timely, political thriller based on the remarkable life of Fair Pay icon Lilly Ledbetter with plans to shoot in the South this fall. A dramatic feature film in the tradition of other socially relevant movies such as Silkwood, The Insider, Erin Brockovich, Philadelphia, and Spotlight, LILLY can garner large audiences, affect culture, and contend for awards. 

 

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act of 2009 was the first piece of legislation that President Obama signed. While many people are familiar with Lilly’s legal and political achievements, our film is a heartbreaking family narrative illuminating the personal toll of challenging entrenched bastions of power, the story folks don’t know.

lilly's story

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Lilly, age 8, with her aunt & grandmother. Possum Trot, Alabama,1945

Lilly Ledbetter grew up in Possum Trot, Alabama, on a dirt farm without electricity or running water, picking cotton at the age of eight for pennies. A smart girl, with big dreams, she married Charles Ledbetter, her high school sweetheart and lifelong mate, with whom she had two children. But Lilly and Charles struggled to make ends meet. Determined to elevate their family into the middle class, Lilly found the “best paying job in the county,” a night supervisor at The Goodyear Tire Factory.  

 

Despite Lilly's “first-one-in” and “last-one-out” work-ethic, her days were fraught with "good ole boy" misogyny. Enduring myriad family sacrifices and twenty years of sexual harassment, when she discovered that the company was also cheating her, paying the men twice what she was earning, denying her wages, retirement, and pension, she focused her rage on setting this injustice right. 

 

Jon Goldfarb, a fierce, young civil rights lawyer, convinced his firm to take on her case pro bono. Though the cap on damages was $60,000 at the initial trial, the jury awarded Lilly $3.8 MILLION dollars. Goodyear immediately appealed and Lilly lost on a technicality, never to see a dime. 

 

Emboldened by the injustice, Lilly and Goldfarb took their case to the Supreme Court to fix the discrepancy in the law, however, corporate interests once again prevailed. As a result, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a rare-spoken dissent from the bench, urged Lilly to take her cause to Congress. Despite Lilly's lack of polish, perhaps even because of it, her notoriety spread as she crusaded through the halls of Congress, speaking plainly of the inequities facing women in the workplace. But as she became synonymous with the “face of Fair Pay,” powerful players, determined to undermine her efforts, endangered her family and put her life in jeopardy. Throughout all of this, when Lilly was not in court, or in Congress, she was taking care of her beloved Charles, now seriously ill.

Lilly became the voice of a movement, speaking at the Democratic convention, advocating for equal pay for equal work. While she didn’t succeed for herself, her advocacy became a fight for others, and that pride fulfilled her destiny of purpose. Though Charles did not live to see her achievements, Lilly was able to heal deep wounds with her children and know that her granddaughter would have a better future.

impact

Great dramas with themes of social justice can impact society and narrative feature films are changing the conversation in ways that used to be the domain of documentaries. LILLY will inspire an impact campaign in support of women in the workplace, launching in anticipation of the release of the film, living on long after. 

The triple harms of gender pay inequity, discriminatory hiring/promotion, and sexual harassment, create damaging effects that cascade throughout society, especially women of color. While the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act of 2009 improved the pathway toward redress of individual pay inequity cases, there is much more to be done to end discrimination against women in the workplace. The Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced in Congress during the first week of President Biden’s administration is our next step. The work continues. 

We are proud to be partnering with The Female Quotient, The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and The National Women's Law Center as we develop our mission, our outreach, and our legacy. We are continuing to recruit a select group of non-profit, foundation, and corporate partners, as well as experts and community leaders, to create a robust campaign project that will also engage consumers in a multi-pronged awareness, analysis, and action effort for positive change. 

 

CAST

Patricia Clarkson

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as Lilly Ledbetter

We are thrilled to announce that Patricia Clarkson, one of the world’s most respected actors in film, television, and theater will be starring as Lilly Ledbetter. Her accolades include an Academy Award nomination, multiple Screen Actors Guild and Tony Award nominations, with numerous Golden Globe, Emmy, National Society of Film Critics, and British Independent Film Awards. 

 

Ms. Clarkson recently starred with Amy Adams in the HBO series Sharp Objects, for which she won a Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination. Some of her most beloved feature film credits include: the George Clooney directed Good Night and Good Luck, The Green Mile opposite Tom Hanks, The Station Agent, and Pieces of April, for which she was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe. Notable television credits include House of Cards and Six Feet Under.

 

In theatre, she is best known for her Tony-nominated performance in the Broadway production of The Elephant Man co-starring with Bradley Cooper, and as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire at The Kennedy Center. An actor’s actor, Ms. Clarkson will, no doubt, attract equally respected talent to LILLY. Born and raised in New Orleans, the youngest of five sisters, her mother was a multi-termed city councilwoman. Ms. Clarkson earned an MFA from Yale School of Drama.

 

director's statement

Lilly Ledbetter with director Rachel Feldman

When I first heard Lilly’s story, I was captivated by her achievements and struck by how her journey hit every sweet spot on the classic storytelling roadmap. I optioned her life rights and her beautiful memoir, Grace and Grit, and immediately got cracking on the screenplay. I'm thrilled, beyond measure, that Patricia Clarkson, a profoundly gifted American treasure, will accompany me on the journey bringing Lilly’s story to life.

Whistle-blowers. Truth-tellers. Underdogs. My favorite films have always been about tenacious fighters, whether their battles be political or personal. My goal is to make a hard-hitting thriller that will keep the audience on the edge of their seats and their hearts full of hope. Though Lilly Ledbetter’s political achievements are the architecture upon which the narrative of the film is framed, and the issues of Fair Pay and Gender Equity are clearly thematic pillars, my focus as a filmmaker is the personal and psychological cost of Lilly’s relentless struggle.

I will paint a portrait of a woman who, without education or resources, suppressed by her time and place, and thwarted by one repressive patriarchy after another, finds it within herself to confront multiple monolithic institutions, transforming into the woman she had always envisioned. I’m interested in the traumatic effects of relentless obstruction and the moral courage to surmount it. LILLY is a story about radical resilience.

 

As a woman director working in Hollywood for the past thirty years, I know gender discrimination first-hand. As we fill the ranks of our production staff, department heads, and crew, our priority will always be to hire women. I am honored that Lilly has put her trust in me to share her story with the world. I believe this is the perfect moment for this film.

Rachel Feldman

Director/Writer

 

TEAM

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Rachel Feldman

Director/Writer

Rachel Feldman is a veteran director/writer who has worked with the finest actors, producers, and technicians, on more than 75 studio and network productions. You can find her bio, credits, and film at www.rachelfeldman.com. A former Chair of the Directors Guild of America Women’s Steering Committee, Feldman has been an outspoken activist for gender parity in Hollywood for decades. You can see her interviewed in the Geena Davis produced documentary, This Changes Everything, Half the Picture, and the Bloomberg film, Celluloid Ceiling, and read her articles in Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, and Ms. Magazine

Feldman was a professional child actor, studied at Parsons School of Design and Sarah Lawrence College, then received an MFA in film directing from NYU. She worked her way up as a storyboard artist while making award-winning, grant-funded films. You can follow her on Twitter @WomenCallAction

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J. Todd Harris

Producer

J. Todd Harris is the president of Branded Pictures Entertainment. Previously, he was the president of production for Intellectual Properties Worldwide and the president of Davis Entertainment Classics. He has produced 50 feature films, including Golden-Globe winning The Kids Are All Right and The Trial of the Chicago 7 in addition to five Sundance Film Festival entries. He has also produced three stage musicals in New York.

 

Harris is a 21-year-member of the Motion Picture Academy, a member of the Producers Guild, and a Broadway League member (2015-2018).  He is a founding board member of the Napa Valley Film Festival and a former adjunct professor at Chapman University and Syracuse University (LA campus).  He earned his BA and MBA from Stanford University.  He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Amy Powers. 

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Simone Pero

Executive Producer

Simone Pero is president and founder of the social impact film production company For Impact Productions. Her portfolio embraces visionary projects including, The Tale starring Laura Dern for which Pero received an Emmy nomination and This Changes Everything, which premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. She is currently the co-executive producer of the Viva Verdi! documentary and consults for a wide range of productions, television networks, corporations, and organizations.

 

Named by Cynopsis Media as a Top Woman in Media in Community Building, Pero is also an active leader in the media and entertainment industry, currently serving as the Advisory Board Chair of New York Women in Film & Television, Board Member of Women in Film & Television International, and is a member of the Producers Guild of America and the Television Academy. She is a visiting professor and on the leadership team of the Stony Brook Killer Films MFA in Film program and is a frequent public speaker. Pero began her career as a public policy analyst in the Clinton Administration and was later Vice President for Corporate Communications at MTV and Director of Communication and Marketing at Rainbow Media/Cablevision (now known as AMC Networks).

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Jyoti Sarda

Executive Producer

Jyoti Sarda brings twenty years as a senior-level global marketing executive with major studios and blue-chip brands to developing impact-creating, documentary, and narrative content through her company Nimble Media LLC. Currently, she is the producer of the award-winning POV (PBS) documentary series, And She Could Be Next, following the movement led by women of color to transform politics as candidates and organizers. She is also Co-Executive Producer of Equal Means Equal, an award-winning documentary feature that is an unflinching examination of the discrimination against women built into the US legal system. Until 2016, Jyoti was Vice President of Marketing at Paramount Home Media where she led all facets of global marketing operations for Paramount partner brands while overseeing international acquisitions. Prior to Paramount, she worked at Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Jyoti serves on the advisory board of LAANE, a leading LA-based social justice nonprofit. Her undergrad degree from USC and EMBA from UCLA makes her a rare Bruin/Trojan, though she declines to take sides.

Twitter: @jyotimsarda

Facebook: Jyoti Sarda

Instagram: @jyotipie

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David Rich

Executive Producer, Social Action Campaign Lead

David Rich is president of the new entertainment media company, Corstoria, focused on commercial stories of social impact. Previously, he produced and directed award-winning global experiential marketing programs for Fortune 100 companies with such properties as the Olympic Games, PGA, Formula 1 Racing, and superstar entertainment acts such as Bruno Mars, Jon Bon Jovi, and Aerosmith.

 

Across his industry roles as creative director, producer, and for twenty years, SVP of the strategy practice at George P. Johnson Experience Marketing, his methodologies, strategies, and concepts have been applied to everything from single events for audiences of over 100,000 participants, to a single brand’s entire worldwide experiential marketing portfolio with an annual budget exceeding $200 million dollars. Prior to that work, he represented activists, celebrity speakers, and entertainers for events, TV, and publishing.

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Kelly Ashton

Executive Producer

Kelly E. Ashton is a film and theatre producer who has produced films in both London, New York, and Los Angeles. Her most recent film, The Bay of Silence is now out on Hulu. Other credits include The Seagull, starring Saoirse Ronan and Annette Benning, Red Joan starring Dame Judi Dench, and Apartment 407. Kelly focuses on female-driven quality projects that are often real-life stories. Kelly began her career in strategic planning for the retail industry and worked for both Macy’s and Bloomingdales before transitioning to theatre. She has produced: The Collector, Everything Is Illuminated, and Fresher's in London and Scotland. She has also raised finance for the West End productions of The Dresser and Nice Fish starring Mark Rylance in London. Corporate and non-profit Board Service includes US and International Boards: General Host Corporation, Everglades Plaza, Helpline Crisis Center in New York, The International School of Turin, and the Board of Aiglon College. Kelly holds a BA from Yale University and MBA from Harvard Business School.

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Kate Kelley

SVP Brand Partnerships, Social Action Campaign

Kate’s role as SVP of partnership development for the Lilly Social Action Campaign & Head of Partnerships for Fyli combines her expertise in conceptualizing strategic partnerships that drive brand reputation and business growth opportunities, with her passion for human rights. She has over 15 years of experience in experiential marketing strategy and strategic partnerships. Her core strength is a keen eye for envisioning the potential intersections of partnerships rooted in substance that bring the brand to life in meaningful ways through experiential marketing, content creation, and bespoke opportunities.

Kate has developed programs for some of the world's most recognized events such as the Tribeca Film Festival, Comicon, SXSW, CES, Miami Art Basel and Art Miami, and has implemented marketing strategies and initiatives for brands and agencies such as LOUIS XIII, Showtime, YouTube, AMC, NBC, Turner, HBO, HULU, Paramount, and Google.

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