Actress Geena Davis moonlights as a feminist crusader, and the work she is doing to get more and better roles for women in movies and on TV is making a real impact.
As the head of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the star is working to increase the presence of women both on and off screen, and after 11 years, she thinks she is finally making an impact. The reason? Her plan is so, so simple.
“I meet with everyone in Hollywood,” she told E! News. “I just go directly to them and say, ‘Whatever you’re going to make now, just before you cast it, go through and change a bunch of first names to female, and if it says in a script that a crowd gathers, just put half should be female,'” Davis says. “All you have to do is that. Just a few strokes of the pen and now you have a gender-balanced movie. And they won’t be stereotypical female characters because they were written for men.”
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So how’s it working out? Davis said that more than half the execs she’s met with told her their conversations impacted “two or more of their projects. Forty-one percent said that it impacted four or more of their projects.”
That’s a pretty great success rate!
“I’m very confident predicting that as stuck as that needle has been, it could change this year,” she said. “When it does, it will be historical.”
Davis is so invested in the idea that she started her own film festival to promote it. The Arkansas-based Bentonville Film Festival launched in May to champion diversity in media.
“We want to show how commercial it is to have diversity and the presence of a female voice onscreen or behind the camera,” Davis said. “All the studios want to have a really big presence next year… It’s very exciting.”
The 2016 Bentonville Film Festival runs May 3 through May 8.