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Founder Shari Smith on Living the Good Life

Director and exec producer Kat Coiro has an affinity for strong women, whether she’s working with Jennifer Lopez on the rom-com Marry Me or bringing a modern-day female superhero to life on screen in the form of the She-Hulk: Attorney at Law for Disney+ and Marvel Studios. But it takes one to know one, and throughout her filmmaking career — which kicked into high gear in 2011 with the Krysten Ritter-starrer Life Happens — Coiro has blazed her own noteworthy trail in Hollywood, not only in the form of empowering and embracing other women, but also as a champion of the environment.

Being a female director in Hollywood comes with its own set of challenges, and despite the positive gains that resulted from the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and sexual harassment, Coiro has witnessed first-hand the resentment surrounding the empowerment of women — as evidenced by a recent on-set interaction with a man who had fallen short of his own career goals of becoming a director.

“From his perspective, he felt robbed of a more elevated position because I existed,” says Coiro, who recently directed the first two episodes of the upcoming Spiderwick Chronicles series for Disney+ and has also been tapped to helm the film adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s novel The Husband’s Secret. “He mentioned several times how lucky I was to be a woman right now, as if that's the only reason I'm working. And that sentence, ‘you're so lucky to be a woman right now’— which I've heard more than once in the last few years — negates years of hard work, sacrifice, hustle, drive, talent.”

But rather than interpreting moments like these as setbacks, Coiro chooses to use them as fuel for the fire. “I think that now is a really critical time for women and people of color and minorities to stand in their power, and know that the fight is far from over,” she says.

Meanwhile, on the sustainability front, what started as Coiro’s own personal efforts to eliminate single-use plastic from her home and teaching her kids how to make environmentally friendly choices has become a deep-seated passion that has informed into her professional life too. A board member of Habits of Waste, a non-profit that focuses on actionable waste reduction, Coiro is also behind the Lights, Camera, Plastic initiative aimed at changing the way that directors, producers, actors and production designers, among others, treat waste on-screen.

“I feel great power and responsibility in my job, because the entertainment industry really does play a role in influencing the decisions of the public,” says Coiro, citing the example of the anti-smoking movement, which gained momentum with Hollywood’s backing. “If we strive to remove single-use plastic from our screens, we have the power to highlight more sustainable choices and make a big difference.”

RI: On your busiest days, what self-care is non-negotiable for you?

MC: Setting boundaries for myself. That’s a huge lesson last summer taught me. If I feel like I'm being pushed and I feel like I will be taken advantage of or not getting all that I've worked for and be exploited in some type of way, I say something now. Being in white spaces, I always felt I had to be a certain way; I had to be palatable, I couldn’t ruffle any feathers. And that takes a toll on you over time. If something is not serving me, I say something. I don’t think younger me would have done that. But seeing Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles set an example more recently taught me to value your mental health over your work, so you can actually enjoy what you’re doing, you know?

RI: What was your relationship with beauty growing up?

KC: I was really lucky to be raised by parents who were always very positive, and so I have a very nice voice in my head that always reminds me that I'm beautiful just the way I am, whether I'm dolled up or shooting for 70 consecutive days and barely have time to brush my hair. And one of the things I remember my mom saying when I was little and stressing out is, “you could wear a burlap sack and shave your head, and you'd still be beautiful.” I say that to my daughter now. She rolls her eyes, but someday she'll appreciate it like I do. And for much of my life I took that to heart, and I didn't really pay much attention to the way I looked, or even have a beauty routine.

In some ways, I almost saw beauty as anathema to a position of power. You could not be a woman of substance and beautiful, which I think speaks legions to the way that we are also conditioned that you can't be pretty and powerful. As I'm getting older, I'm actually starting to want to give myself a little more self-care and allowing myself to embrace the idea of beauty and enhancing beauty with makeup and still understanding that I can still be intelligent and powerful.

“I FEEL GREAT POWER AND RESPONSIBILITY IN MY JOB, BECAUSE THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY REALLY DOES PLAY A ROLE IN INFLUENCING THE DECISIONS OF THE PUBLIC.

RI: On your busiest days, what self-care is non-negotiable for you?

MC: Setting boundaries for myself. That’s a huge lesson last summer taught me. If I feel like I'm being pushed and I feel like I will be taken advantage of or not getting all that I've worked for and be exploited in some type of way, I say something now. Being in white spaces, I always felt I had to be a certain way; I had to be palatable, I couldn’t ruffle any feathers. And that takes a toll on you over time. If something is not serving me, I say something. I don’t think younger me would have done that. But seeing Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles set an example more recently taught me to value your mental health over your work, so you can actually enjoy what you’re doing, you know?

“I FEEL GREAT POWER AND RESPONSIBILITY IN MY JOB, BECAUSE THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY REALLY DOES PLAY A ROLE IN INFLUENCING THE DECISIONS OF THE PUBLIC.

RI: What was your relationship with beauty growing up?

KC: I was really lucky to be raised by parents who were always very positive, and so I have a very nice voice in my head that always reminds me that I'm beautiful just the way I am, whether I'm dolled up or shooting for 70 consecutive days and barely have time to brush my hair. And one of the things I remember my mom saying when I was little and stressing out is, “you could wear a burlap sack and shave your head, and you'd still be beautiful.” I say that to my daughter now. She rolls her eyes, but someday she'll appreciate it like I do. And for much of my life I took that to heart, and I didn't really pay much attention to the way I looked, or even have a beauty routine.

In some ways, I almost saw beauty as anathema to a position of power. You could not be a woman of substance and beautiful, which I think speaks legions to the way that we are also conditioned that you can't be pretty and powerful. As I'm getting older, I'm actually starting to want to give myself a little more self-care and allowing myself to embrace the idea of beauty and enhancing beauty with makeup and still understanding that I can still be intelligent and powerful.

"HONESTLY, CONFIDENCE IS SOMETIMES ABOUT FAKING IT AND IGNORING THE NEGATIVE INNER VOICE"