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Geena Davis says things still haven’t changed when it comes to older actresses and working opportunities in Hollywood.
Speaking to CBS News, the Thelma & Louise star says that 30 years after the career-defining role — and a film that some claimed would change opportunities and representation for women in Hollywood — things have, in fact, not actually changed, especially for older actresses.
When asked whether she thought things had gotten better for women in Hollywood, particularly those over 50, the producer and gender-equity advocate said “No, no. No, it hasn’t.”
“It’s much different for female actors past 50 than male actors past 50,” she continued. “The majority of female characters, I believe, are in their 20s, and the majority of male actors are in their 30s and 40s.”
In addition to her acting career, Davis has been a vocal advocate for women’s representation in Hollywood, publishing studies on gender and media representation through her non-profit the Geena Davis Institute in addition to producing the 2019 documentary This Changes Everything, which examines the history and challenges around gender equity and equality in Hollywood.
Davis pointed to her own career when asked about whether she had seen a shift in opportunities as conversations around gender representation and inclusion in film and TV have increased in the last half-decade.
“You know, I make a joke about that, like, because I’m working to get more female roles in movies and TV, that at some point this will actually benefit me personally. But so far it hasn’t,” she said.
The GLOW and Grey’s Anatomy actress says that the industry has continued its pattern of writing more roles for older men than they do for older women. And if those roles aren’t there, the representation simply can’t exist.
“They’re so few [opportunities] — I mean, if you look at people in my age range, they’re so few that are really getting, that are really working steadily,” Davis said. “There’s just very few parts for people my age and older, you know? So, it’s just bad odds, basically.”
While Davis says things aren’t necessarily improving for Hollywood’s older female talent, there is at least some headway when it comes to women leading blockbusters, with the actress pointing to the release of Black Widow as a sign of whether the industry is “finally getting it.”
“You know, they made Black Widow, which recently opened to great success. And I think we’re definitely headed more in that direction,” Davis said. “To have more blockbusters with women in the lead roles is definitely happening more, which is very exciting.”
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