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Lucille Ball: A pioneer in film and business

What defines a leader?

Our first thoughts may conjure images of righteous public figures who shine behind our television screens. But what about the ones who have innovated the world around us in a less-apparent fashion?

An example of this could be Lucille Ball, an actress, comedian, businesswoman and executive producer best known for her role on the hit sitcom “I Love Lucy.” Born on Aug. 6, 1911 in the state of New York, she harbored a love for theater from a young age, and played numerous roles throughout her career.

Through her work, she played a major role in the development of American sitcoms, opened more opportunities for women in Hollywood, and ultimately redefined the American housewife stereotype. Her pioneering allowed multiple developments in the world of film, starting with the methods of filmmaking that we see today.

Without the efforts made by DesiLu Productions, the movies and shows we know would not be the same.

“Ball’s influence made ‘I Love Lucy’ one of the first television shows to be recorded in the way that became standard for television sitcoms. It also marked a shift from a New York-centered television industry to a Los Angeles television industry, as ‘I Love Lucy’ and future shows began filming in Hollywood to take advantage of the film industry’s studios and multi-camera setups,” according to WomensHistory.

Because of the unique layout of “I Love Lucy’s” set, many studios followed suit, leading to the normalization of multiple cameras on set. This standard is what we know now in television and film.

Though “I Love Lucy” was not the first show to utilize this method, it was this show that popularized it. By doing so, almost all sitcoms made after used this style that we see to this day. Like Ball’s technical innovations, she also restructured the standards for women within the film industry.

Through her expertise in business and acting, Ball transformed the way women were viewed in television.

“Ball’s talent for both verbal and slapstick comedy paved the way for future television women. In addition to opening new doors for women in front of the camera, Ball was also a powerful female figure behind the scenes. As co-owner of Desilu, she became the first woman to head a production studio,” states WomensHistory.

Her talents in the industry opened the public’s eyes to the possibility of women playing executive roles in business. From this development, more opportunities arose for her female colleagues within the field. From Ball’s production, even stereotypes within television were changed.

During her time on the show “I Love Lucy,” Ball played a character who helped redefine the stereotype of the typical housewife during the 1950s.

“Lucille Ball portrayed Lucy in ways in which women had not been before seen on television. Lucy is a housewife who in every episode resists domestic life and/or a wife’s dependence on her husband, often to her husband’s disliking. She vies to be part of the outside world (a recurring struggle for her is to work her way into Ricky’s nightclub act), and is constantly coming up with schemes to get what she wants,” according to WomensHistory.

She presented women in a different light — one where they could be self-sufficient. During the 1950s, women were expected to conform to the domestic lifestyle and traditional gender roles.

The ideas presented in this show combated the notion in a comedic way. Through her work, concepts such as those were able to become more widely accepted. Because of these efforts, DesiLu Productions was able to reform social ideals and the film industry in ways that are present in our world today.

Ball acted as a leader through her innovation and influenced many around the globe. From breaking stereotypes to becoming the first woman to own a major production studio, Ball’s impact changed Hollywood as we know it.

She was a jack-of-all-trades when it came to entertainment, and wasn’t afraid to bring controversial ideas to light through her work. Ball’s pioneering not only brought new ideas to the world of entertainment, but also contributed greatly to the rise of women in business.


Brielle Lo is a senior at Waimea High School.
Source: The Garden Island

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