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AFI DOCS – A Woman’s Work: The NFL Cheerleader Problem

When I was growing up in St. Louis, being a cheerleader was the ‘it’ thing.  If you were on the cheer squad, it meant going to games free, being in plain sight of those players you were crushing on and being part of a sisterhood that for some will last a lifetime.  You were seen as popular and let’s face it for some chicks  being was all that mattered.

The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders took cheering to a whole new level and were hands down more popular than the team they cheered for. They had calendars, commercials, multiple appearances on the hottest television programs of that era and even had a prime time movie starring Jane Seymour called Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders in 1979.  The ladies were gorgeous, physically fit and had the best dance moves of any squad in the country.

Holding up to the standards, glory and reputation of that hit squad had become an all too common theme amongst dance/cheerleading crews of NFL and NBA teams.  What has also become common is the reality these women are not adequately compensated for their time.  In many instances, a variety of teams (not all), grossed a grand total of $1250 a year.  Yup…that’s right.  Now subtract the tanks of gas, nail and hair appointments coupled with and a gym membership to stay in shape for those skimpy uniforms and you will end up with a figure even less than that!

Directed by Yu Gu and recently screened at the AFI DOCS film festival, A Woman’s Work:  The NFL Cheerleader Problem bust this scandal wide open by showcasing the lives of one the first girls to actively sue the NFL and become triumphant in their lawsuits.  Did it come with a price?  Of course it did.  Being the first and being a woman who is questioning the mostly male status quo of the National Football League will always come with a price.  Why?  The ideology that women should be seen and not heard, wash dishes, clean and cook still permeates in a time where Times Up! and #MeToo permeate headlines on a weekly sometimes daily basis.  The NFL believes women should be satisfied with the ‘honor’ to be associated with such a highly successful organization.

In an effort to avoid future lawsuits and controversy, many teams are eliminating squads altogether to squash the controversy.  Very similar to what they’ve done with the CTE (Chronic traumatic Encephalopathy) issue amongst its players resulting in brain damage from multiple head injuries over a period of time.

Yu Gu and I spoke about all that and more.  Check it out…


A Woman’s Work should literally be called A Woman’s Worth, as that is what is being questioned and challenged by the industry.  If you missed this at AFI DOCS, be on the lookout for it soon on PBS.  I will keep you in the loop for sure!

I love, love love movies, watching them and discussing them...thus the birth of The Curvy Film Critic!!! Host/Producer/FilmCritic,Carla Renata is a member of such esteemed organizations as Critics Choice Association (Co-President Documentary Branch), African American Film Critics Association, Online Association of Female Film Critics and Alliance of Women Film Journalists. My op-eds or features have been seen in VARIETY,, Maltin on Movies, The Cherry Picks, IGN Movies, as well as being a frequent Guest Contributor to Fox 11-LA, Good Day LA, ET Live!, Turner Classic Movies, KCRW Press Play with Madeline Brand, The Cherry Picks, The Stream Team (Beond TV) ITV, Fox Soul's The Black Report, The ListTV and more. Catch my reviews on The Curvy Critic with Carla Renata - LIVE!!! Sundays 5pm PST via You Tube or Facebook Live. If you like what you read please shout me out and subscribe to The Curvy Critic on YouTube. You can chat with me across all social media platforms @TheCurvyCritic and as always, thanks for supporting a sista'

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