Geena Davis on Hollywood Gender Inequality: "I Was Positive It Wasn’t Going to Happen to Me. It Did."

Geena Davis Speech - H 2015
Jeff Lewis

Geena Davis Speech - H 2015

Davis talks about how people thought 'Thelma & Louise' and 'A League of Their Own' would change female-driven movies, but in fact, "nothing changed."

Geena Davis spoke with The Guardian in an extensive interview about gender equality in Hollywood.

The actress, who founded The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, acknowledged that women are getting more comfortable talking about gender discrimination and ageism in the industry. However, she said that Hollywood has not changed significantly in terms of its strong roles for women.

"After Thelma & Louise, which was pretty noticed and potent and significant, [people said] 'This changes everything! There’s going to be so many female buddy movies!' and nothing changed," Davis said in her interview.

"And then the next movie I did was A League of Their Own, which was a huge hit and all the talk was, 'Well now, beyond a doubt, women’s sports movies, we’re going to see a wave of them because this was so successful,' " recalled Davis. "That’s balls. It took 10 years until Bend It Like Beckham came out. So, there was no trend whatsoever."

Davis said people continue to fall for the notion that successful female-driven movies will change gender equality in Hollywood, but she said that hasn't happened, even with movies like Bridesmaids and The Hunger Games.

The actress said that for her whole career she averaged one movie a year and that was when she was being "fussy" and could have done more.

"And then in my 40s I made one movie," said Davis. "And I was positive it wasn’t going to happen to me because I got a lot of great parts for women. I was very fortunate to have all that stuff happen and never get typecast, so I was just cruising along thinking: 'Well yeah, it won’t happen to me.' It did."

Now, she has her reps look for male parts instead of just female roles, since many of them can be changed to be written for a woman.

"My two-pronged solution to the entire problem is just before you cast a film or a TV show, go through the characters and change a bunch of first names to female — hooray!," said Davis, adding that this would be a way to achieve parity overnight. "Now you’ve got a gender-balanced cast, you’ve got female characters who are un-stereotyped because they were written actually for a man and then, wherever it says, 'a crowd gathers,' put 'which is half female.' "