According to a study conducted by the USC Annenberg’s Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative, based on Hollywood directors, female directors are usually “one and done.” Analyzing the gender, race, and age of the directors of the 1,000 top-grossing films from the past 10 years, the researchers found that 80 percent of the female directors could only claim one film they have directed in the previous 10 years–that is from 2007 to 2016.
But these odds have been broken by one female director, and she is from Michigan.
Born Anne Marie Fletcher in Detroit, Michigan, she is considered the top-performing female director of the past decade. She has directed films like Step Up, 27 Dresses, and Hot Pursuit. The Proposal, a Touchstone Pictures release, her highest-grossing movie made $190,077,600 (adjusted for inflation).
Fletcher lived with her family in the local lakefront suburb of St. Clair Shores, Michigan until her 1984 graduation with honors from Lake Shore High School. Upon graduation Fletcher, aged 18, moved to Los Angeles, California, where she attained further training as a dancer and began working as a professionally; including performing as a Lakers Girl.
In 1990, she was hired to dance at the 62 Academy Awards. It was here that she met Adam Shankman. Shankman hired Fletcher to become his assistant choreographer. This lead to a longtime personal friendship and professional affiliation. She credits Shankman for helping her both develop her own set of choreographic and film directorial skills and to achieve a similarly successful career path.
As a dancer, Fletcher appeared, in The Flintstones (1994), The Mask (1994), Tank Girl (1995), Casper (1995) and Titanic (1997). Fletcher later developed choreography for the Oscar-nominated drama film Boogie Nights (1997) starring Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore and Heather Graham, in which she also appeared as a dancer, as well as for the comedy film A Life Less Ordinary (1997) with Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz.
With encouragement from Shankman, Fletcher began to consider a directorial career. She worked alongside Shankman, who had moved from choreography to directing with films such as Hairspray (2007) and The Wedding Planner, for both of which she was an associate producer.
In 2006 Fletcher directed romantic dance film, Step Up starring Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan-Tatum, a film nominated for two Teen Choice Awards (2007) and one Young Artist Award (2007). Although Fletcher didn’t direct the sequel to this film, she choreographed on Step Up 2: The Streets (2008) which was directed by Jon M. Chu. Although not well received by critics, the film was favored by audiences and earned Fletcher a second successful director credit on the popular 2008 romantic comedy film, 27 Dresses, starring Katherine Heigl and James Marsden, a film nominated for eight awards: one People’s Choice Awards (2008), two Teen Choice Awards (2008), three Golden Trailer Awards (2008), one Artios Award (2008) and one EDA Special Mention Award.
Based on the success of these two initial efforts, Fletcher has gone on to direct the popular 2009 romantic comedy film, The Proposal, starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. This film was nominated for twenty-seven awards; out of the twenty-seven nominations, the film won seven.
Following the success of The Proposal, Fletcher directed The Guilt Trip (2012) starring Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand. She followed this by directing Hot Pursuit (2015) starring Reese Witherspoon and Sofía Vergara. This film was nominated for four Teen Choice Awards (2015)
For more on the USC Annenberg’s Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative study
For more on Anne Fletcher, director