Andrew Kreisberg allegations offer opportunity for change, says Vancouver film veteran

Andrew Kreisberg allegations offer opportunity for change, says Vancouver film veteran

Lisa Ovies wasn't even out of school yet when she first experienced sexual harassment in the film industry. 

"It was someone I should have looked up to, and I did," said Ovies, an actor, producer and director who also now runs her own film school in Vancouver.

Ovies says the man, who she did not name, made inappropriate sexual advances towards her.

"Then, when I didn't want to sleep with him, I paid for it." 

Ovies says she has been subject to harassment throughout her career. So when misconduct allegations surfaced about executive producer Andrew Kreisberg, Ovies wasn't surprised.

Kreisberg, co-creator and executive producer of the Vancouver-filmed series The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow and DC's Legends of Tomorrow, has been suspended from work amid the allegations. 

Ovies says the film industry in Vancouver, as elsewhere, is rife with problems because of an inherit imbalance of power in the male-dominated field. But she also thinks the allegations offer opportunity for change. 

"It's almost empowering and inspiring," she said. 

"To know that things are actually changing — and it feels like things might actually start to be different now — I think that's kind of exciting."

The problem is so pervasive in film and television that Ovies feels compelled to talk to her students about it at her school. 

She says she tells her students age 12 and over about the imbalance of power between actors and powerful producers, who often act as gatekeepers in an industry where a strong resume and credentials aren't enough.

Ovies teaches her students about warning signs, how to empower themselves, and to trust their instincts. 

But these days, Ovies is also encouraging them to speak up and name their abusers to authorities — the union, the studios and police. 

"I'm glad this information is getting out there and people are being held accountable," she said.

"I'm really glad that we're all being forced into this dialogue."