By: Courtney Giardina, Regular Contributor
It is no secret that women have been underrepresented in the film industry for some time now. Not only are the actual roles available for women few and far between, but the types of roles are stereotypical, submissive roles such as wives, girlfriends and sex symbols. A study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University detailed that out of the roughly 23,000 roles cast in domestic films in 2014, only 12% of those roles were representative of lead female characters.
Why is that you ask? I think that Dr. Martha Lauzen, the Director of the Center for Study of Women, said it best when said, “People tend to create what they know.” This makes absolute sense seeing that less than 10% of directors in Hollywood are female. It makes it very difficult to tell stories of strength and power from a woman’s perspective when there isn’t anybody to tell it.
So how do we change it? The answer, we need more females in the industry like Reese Witherspoon. Witherspoon is well known for playing strong female leads in movies such as “Walk the Line” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” but recently she has grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of current quality roles for women over 30. She whole heartedly believed that women deserved better. In a recent interview at the Oscars Award Luncheon, Reese addressed her belief by saying, “it’s great to speak up, but what I really think is you’ve got to do something.”
Just two years after creating the production company, Pacific Standard, Reese and her partner, Australian Producer Bruna Papandrea, now have two successful films under their belt. Pacific Standard is the production company behind the highly successful box office films “Gone Girl” and “Wild,” both of which earned two 2015 Oscar nominations for actresses in a lead role.
Although the industry has a long way to go, the hard work and perseverance of those like Reese Witherspoon and the success both in front of and behind the camera prove that the industry needs to change. The narrow focus on what roles women should play and the types of films being produced needs to shift. Women are capable of so much more than they are being given credit for and the more we keep stepping outside of the box and pushing the envelope to prove it, the less oppressive Hollywood will be to accept it.
What other awesome female role models can you think of to celebrate in Hollywood? How about in other male-dominated fields? Sound off in the comments!
Courtney was born and raised in a suburb outside of Rochester, NY. She now calls Charlotte, NC home. Each day she lives by the motto that we create the life we imagine for ourselves. Her debut novel Tear Stained Beaches was released in 2013, her second novel is currently in editing and she has begun work on novel #3. Having a passion for cheerleading most of her life, it’s no surprise her spare time is spent currently as the head coach for a local middle school team and also as part of the Charlotte Hounds Major League Lacrosse dance team. She tweets under @sweetangeleyz and shares her latest adventures at The Girl Behind the Covers.