In the wake of the #MeToo movement and Hollywood’s continuing reckoning with sexual misconduct, intimacy coordinators have become a fixture on film and television sets. Their role is to ensure the safety, consent and comfort of performers when executing the vision of writers and directors.
And no one has received more attention and credit for doing so than Ita O’Brien, widely considered the original intimacy coordinator.
She spent years developing Intimacy on Set Guidelines, before founding Intimacy On Set, a service that provides intimacy coordinators, consultancy, advocacy and training for TV, film and theatre sets. She was first hired as an official intimacy coordinator on Sex Education season one in 2018 (a show widely praised for its realistic and inclusive portrayals of sex) and has since worked on other hit shows including Normal People, I May Destroy You, Industry and It’s A Sin.
‘I take no credit in the incredible writing that is already in the shows I’ve worked on, but my role is to help facilitate. I make sure the sexual content isn’t gratuitous, that it’s serving the character and storyline,’ says Ita O’Brien over Zoom. ‘I make sure the actors are fully aware on what is being asked of them and I create clear choreography for them to follow, so they feel safe and empowered.’
With the help of better scripts and more female directors, O’Brien is leading the charge ensuring there are more relatable, un-glamorised portrayals of sex on screen which directly transcend to what viewers are home can learn, consider and put into practice in their own lives.
Here she talks to ELLE UK about seven lessons we can learn about our own relationships and sex lives through the overhauling and updating of tiresome, outdated and harmful depictions on TV.
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