Geena Davis' Advice for Hollywood Influencers to Get More Women in Movies

The actress is the founder of the Bentonville Film Festival.

ByABC News
May 5, 2016, 8:33 AM

— -- Actress Geena Davis said it will not take major changes in the movie industry to get more women on the big screen, but it will require action from people in positions of influence.

“The advice I have for people in my position or the people who are going to be the star of a movie or have clout, it’s very easy to impact change without offending anybody or anything,” Davis said in an interview with Robin Roberts that aired today on “Good Morning America.”

Giving examples, Davis added, “Just by saying, ‘Hey, you know that scene tomorrow where I give a speech? Let’s have the crowd be half women,’ or, ‘You know when I get my gang together, could that be half women?’ or ‘Could my cabinet be half women? Could the board be half women?’

“Of course everybody is going to go, ‘Yeah, of course, why not?’” Davis said.

The star of “A League of Their Own” and “Thelma & Louise,” two women-driven box office successes, is on a mission to increase the voice of women in media with her Bentonville Film Festival and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

The Bentonville Film Festival, underway through May 8 in Bentonville, Arkansas, features a slate of 34 films, including 12 world premieres.

“The whole goal is to champion women and diversity in all forms of media so we didn’t want to have a festival … and have it be like let’s look at some nice movies that were directed by women or minorities or whatever,” Davis said. “We want it to be very impactful and proactive.”

“One of the things we’re able to do which is unheard of in film festivals in the world is prizes are guaranteed distribution so they’ll be in AMC theaters, on Walmart shelves, they’ll be on Starz or Lifetime on TV,” said the Oscar winner. “I had a filmmaker tell me the other day that getting distribution is harder than making a movie so it’s a huge component to get your movie out in the theaters.”

Davis said the commercial success of recent female-driven movies is “not enough” to say there has been real change in the industry.

“I’ve been in movies where people have reacted by saying now everything has changed," Davis said. "'Thelma and Louise' was one. My very next movie was ‘[A] League of Their Own’ which was a huge hit, lots of women, 'oh now everything has changed for sure,' and it doesn’t.

“So every few years like ‘Bridesmaids’ or ‘Hunger Games,’ now everything has changed and the fact is the ratio of male to female characters in films has been exactly the same since 1946," she said.