Geena Davis Is Changing The Game When It Comes To Female Roles In Hollywood
Being a woman in Hollywood is much like being a woman anywhere else: it’s difficult. Academy Award winning actress Geena Davis admits in an interview with Vulture that she was “spoiled” with the rich roles she had in the female-driven classics Thelma and Louise and A League Of Their Own. These sort of opportunities simply didn’t exist once Davis entered her 40s and she has dedicated the last 10 years to discovering why that is. Projects like “The Headless Women Of Hollywood” have opened our eyes to the blatant sexism that happens everyday in the production process of film and TV, while Davis’ own initiative The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has slowly but surely made quite the impact.
In addition to being the co-founder of the Bentonville Film Festival, an event designed not only to showcase diverse talent, but to actually get their work seen by decision makers, Davis has dedicated her days to spreading awareness of female representation in film and media. Here she elaborates:
“My goal always has been to educate the business instead of the public, which is why people didn’t hear about it for a long time. It was much more important to reach them in a collegial way, “I’m in the biz, I’m your friend,” rather than encouraging the populace to rise up and demand better. I didn’t know what to expect, but the reactions have been the same for ten years. People are shocked. They feel horrible, actually. At first they say, “That’s not true, not anymore. That’s been fixed!” They are completely sincere. They would name a movie that had one female character as evidence.”
Ah yes, the ole “what about Bridesmaids?” conversation that happens every time I insist there aren’t enough female-driven comedies. ONE FILM MADE 5 YEARS AGO DOES NOT SUFFICE.
Tell ‘em why Geena, tell ‘em why:
“Identifying with a character is one of the best parts of seeing a movie, but as women, we’ve had to train ourselves to experience the male journey. So from then on, I made a conscious choice to think about the women in the audience. “What will they think?” And it’s not to say we aren’t girlfriends, wives, or partners — of course we are. But that’s not all we are, and that’s the problem.”
Bingo. This concept was depicted perfectly with Cecily Strong’s “One-Dimensional Female Character from a Male Driven Comedy” sketch from SNL. There is no person behind these ideas of women that are presented in most male-centered scripts.
“It takes a very long time. The ratio of male to female characters in movies has been the same since 1946. For every one speaking female character there are almost three male characters. We’ve found that, not surprisingly, if a female is the writer, director, or producer, onscreen female characters go up by at least ten percent. The dismal numbers for female directors? I can’t even begin to talk about that.”
Preach Geena, preach! Geena Davis for President!