Last week, in a conversation with Rep. Rosa DeLaura, D-Conn., Geena Davis spoke to the Motion Picture Association of American about the lack of opportunities and the dismal statistics for women working in Hollywood. Davis touched upon many topics including ageism in Hollywood and citing her own experiences trying to get parts as she’s aged.
I believed that the fate of female actors, where they seem to stop getting so many female parts when they hit 40 would not apply to me because I had been different. But it’s like falling off a cliff. I was averaging about 1 movie a year, and in my forties, I made one movie. And it’s not that I wasn’t offered any parts, but I wasn’t offered those kinds of parts. And I was so inspired to play unique characters and to do different things, that to be the girlfriend of whoever gets to have the exciting adventure didn’t appeal to me. …If you ever read, at some point, that I’ve signed on to play Sean Connery’s comatose wife, that’s about the right Hollywood age, you’ll know I’m broke.
Davis also spoke about the underrepresentation of women in Hollywood, specifically focusing on how in crowd scenes only 17% are women–a statistic that hasn’t changed since 1946.
She also says that despite the economic success of female led or created films, Hollywood is still very much convinced that these kinds of projects are a financial risk.
I noticed this phenomenon first after Thelma and Louise came out and all the press said ‘Now this is a big hit and it changes the entire landscape and there are going to be so many female road movies or buddy comedies,’ and there were none. We never get any momentum going.
We did a survey of everyone who had heard the research [produced by the Geena Davis Institute], and 63 percent of the people said that what they learned had changed two or more of their projects, where they added more female characters, or changed the dialogue, or put more clothes on them. So we feel like we will, in a few years, be able to change the ratio for the same time since 1946.