Considering most leading roles are played by men, having women play strong roles in films continues to be a highly relevant topic in the movie industry. Women are not only underrepresented as actresses, but also in the director's chair. Only around 8% of directors are women, however it is funny what happens when women are put in the director's chair: they seem to hire more women.
On this Women's Equality Day, we're putting the spotlight on both female directors and actors, who are not only exceptional at what they do, but also are raising their voices for women everywhere.
One of the first that comes to mind is the first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director, Kathryn Bigelow, who directed the film The Hurt Locker, and is also known for the film Zero Dark Thirty. Bigelow said in a statement to TIME that she believes that directors should be judged only based on their work, not by their gender, which continue to stigmatize the industry. She emphasizes that “gender neutral hiring is essential”.
Talent is found all over the world, especially in the French director Claire Dennis and has produced such films as White Material and 35 Shots of Rum. She is often given the high praise of being the best French director alive.
Yet another woman breaking records is director of our own Red Roses and Petrol Tamar Simon Hoffs, became the first woman to receive the triple director/writer/producer credit on a major studio feature film, The All Nighter.
Not only is Mira Nair coming to play a center stage role in film as a director, but also take the cake in learning, hailing from the alma mater of Harvard. Most renowned for her award-winning documentary Saloam Bombay, and owns her own production company, Mirabai Films, which is based in New York.
A Tony Award-winning director, Julie Taymor, has been recognized for her work on Broadway in the production of the Lion King, becoming the first woman to win a Tony for a musical. She has also directed stirring films like Frida, showing that women can not only direct movies well, but also tell other women's stories well.
And it's not just directors, but actresses too, who are speaking out concerning women's rights and what it meant be a confident and modern woman.
Daryl Hannah, from the documentary Welcome to Eden, was listed by the Huffington Post as one of “5 Powerful Women Who Are Making a Positive Difference,” and is renowned for her contributions not only as an actress but also as an environmentalist and powerful voice against human trafficking, giving a voice to people and topics that perhaps would be often overlooked.
Salma Hayek's advice to young girls is simply to “Stand out, don't blend in,” and encourages women everywhere, “to really be profound thinkers that are excited about their differences and explore what they are and who they are and what can come out of the new.” Hayek has advanced such ideas in fundraising events for charities such as “Chime for Change”.
The currently highest-paid actress, Jennifer Lawrence, has spoken out against the gender pay gap, when she discovered that she had negotiated a smaller deal than her male counterparts in the hit movie American Hustle.
Lastly, we give you one of the most outspoken advocates in recent years for women's equality, British Harry Potter star Emma Watson. In conjunction with various organizations, she has built up quite a reputation for women's equality and feminism in general, encouraging men to come alongside women.
“I want men to take up this mantle.” Watson said. “So their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice, but also so that their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human too — reclaim those parts of themselves they abandoned and in doing so be a more true and complete version of themselves.”