Elite Hollywood film stars Reese Witherspoon, Zoe Saldana and Tiffany Haddish gave a raw account of what it’s like to be women championing more women from diverse backgrounds in the creative arts, in an open forum on the new chat room app Clubhouse this week.
“First of all I don’t like to call it diversity, I like to call it reality,” Reese Witherspoon said to an audience of more than 15,000 listeners who had gathered in the BESE virtual room run by Saldana.
“When I started my company in 2013… I self-funded the whole company because I started realising that the material wasn’t being created or developed with women in mind not to mention no women of colour… so the storytelling was just very narrow. Yet, at the same time, we were seeing the emergence of all these streaming platforms that desperately needed content but yet the content wasn’t diversified yet and it wasn’t reflective of reality.
“If you want children and young women to see themselves on film you need an incredible spectrum of the female experience, and that means you need storytellers, screen writers directors, producers, musicians, everybody, across the board, and you just weren’t seeing it, you were seeing the same 200 people being hired over and over again.”
Saldana said that becoming a mum to twin boys had made her feel ‘a sense of duty’, and she had a focus on finding the right platforms to ‘counterbalance this mischaracterisation of communities that we belong to, that we proudly belong to’.
“The more we come together, I feel like it’s going to bring change, it’s not going to be at the pace that we would like to see but … it is the only way that we have to foster growth.”
Another actress championing more diversity and improving the female representation in Hollywood is Thelma and Louise star Geena Davis. Geena said that as soon as she hit 40, roles offered to her ‘dropped off the cliff’. While more celebrities are talking about the the lack of gender diversity on the big and small screen, Geena has been actively involved in this for over a decade.
Notably, she launched the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a research-heavy endeavour focused on improving the representation of women and girls in children’s entertainment.
In 2019, she was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for the work she has done over the decades to fight gender bias on and off screen in Hollywood.
Fortunately, now there is more streaming platforms, there’s a need for more content and this is now leading the way for more roles for women.