Director Kat Coiro on Superheroes, Sustainability & Self-Care

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.”

Here, Coiro opens up on everything from beauty standards in Hollywood to the importance of sleep, motherhood (she has two daughters and a son), and how Jennifer Lopez was the catalyst for own her game-changing workout regimen.

“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.”

“When I see a beautiful, empowered — some would say intimidating — intelligent woman, my instinct now, as a mature individual, is to join forces with her.”

“I want my daughters to grow up in a world where they celebrate and cultivate the badass and beautiful women around them.”

“My hope is honestly that the terms ‘female director’ and ‘female superhero’ become obsolete — that they're just ‘superheroes’ and ‘directors.’”

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