Actress and activist Geena Davis, whose Institute on Gender in Media has been instrumental in researching and advocating for diverse, complex, and equal representation of women in film in television, will give the keynote address at the inaugural ArcLight Presents Women in Entertainment Summit. She joins fellow keynote speaker Cathy Schulman, president of Women in Film, and host Gretchen McCourt, ArcLight executive vice president.
The event, which will bring together women from all areas of the entertainment industry to discuss such topics as human rights, women’s leadership, storytelling across platforms, and empowering young women, is only the latest in Davis’ ongoing campaign to close the gender gap in Hollywood, on screen and behind the camera. Speaking at the Global Symposium on Gender in Media at the BFI London Film Festival, which opened Wednesday with Sarah Gavron’s awards hopeful “Suffragette,” Davis displayed her usual candor.
“The more hours of TV a girl watches, the fewer options she thinks she has, the more hours a boy watches, the more sexist he becomes,” she said. Referring to her own roles, she added: “I can only be this choosy because, so far, I have not run out of money yet. You can’t be as fussy as all that unless you can afford to wait for good parts. If you read that I’ve signed on to play Sean Connery’s comatose wife in a movie, you’ll know I’m broke!”
Davis’ London keynote, like the ArcLight’s upcoming summit—scheduled for Nov. 5 at its famed Cinerama Dome—comes at a moment of heightened attention to gender disparities in Hollywood. In addition to calls for more, and more nuanced, representations of women in film and on television, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has launched an investigation of discriminatory hiring practices in the industry. A study published earlier this year by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University found that only 7% of the 250 highest-grossing films are directed by women, and fully 38% of films employ one or fewer women in major behind the scenes roles.