LOS ANGELES – “Thelma and Louise” icon Geena Davis is “encouraged” that she’s seen more females in lead roles lately.
“There’s lots of progress that can be made in our industry, but it’s encouraging to see some things changing and getting better,” Davis, 62, said at a panel titled “Funny Ladies: Serious Business” on Tuesday in Los Angeles. “In fact, we did a study of 100 top family films in 2017 – we found that female leads in family films have doubled between 2014 and 2017. Since these numbers have been stagnant for, like, ever, we’re encouraged to finally see some movement.”
The event was put on by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and featured “Curb Your Enthusiasm” writer and producer Carol Leifer, comedians Iliza Shlesinger, Aida Rodriguez and Maggie Maye and actresses Natalie Zea and Diona Reasonover.
Davis admitted that she frequently goes to the theater in order to keep score of films that could have cast more women.
“My new model is ‘No more missed opportunities,’” she said. “Every weekend when I go to the movies and I see what’s coming out, there are so many times where I go ‘Ahhh, if only I had talked to them beforehand they wouldn’t have made all the teapots male.'"
“I would have asked, why are they male? And they would have said ‘I don’t know,’ and they would have changed it. So, that’s what we have to put on our bulletin boards – ‘No more missed opportunities.’”
During the candid discussion, the focus shifted to the sexual misconduct and harassment instances brought to light by the #MeToo movement.
Each of the panelists provided their unfiltered views and experiences regarding unfavorable interactions during their careers.
Leifer, 62, said despite being on the scene for many years as a comedian and writer, her experiences pale in comparison to the large number of women who have come forward with their stories.
“I think for someone who has been around as long as I have, I really faced very little sexual harassment – and I think it’s also because as comedians we’re sort of like our own cottage industry,” she shared.
“I do think it’s interesting in the world of comedy when all the stuff came out with #MeToo and with Louis C.K. – and Judy Gold, we all know wrote a great op-ed in the New York Times and she talked about how she had a few problems with the line between hanging out with a comedian in his hotel room and then it getting a little weird. That has happened to me coming up a few times.
“We’re used to hanging out together at midnight in hotel rooms because that’s where you’re staying when you do comedy club gigs. So, there were those couple of times where it just became, ‘Oh no, that’s not what this is about, we’re just hanging out and watching TV or whatever,’ but I thought that was interesting that we kind of had the same experience in that way.”