Geena Davis was thrilled to win an Academy Award, but the star says not everyone shared her excitement.
The actor, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for 1988's "The Accidental Tourist" explained during an appearance on Allison Kugel's podcast "Allison Interviews" that there were filmmakers who felt that she would need to be put in her "place" after receiving the award.
"I had two directors, after I won the Oscar, who I had a rocky start with because they assumed that I was going to think I was 'all that,' and they wanted to make sure that I didn't feel like I was 'all that,'" Davis said, according to Entertainment Weekly. "Without having met me or having spent any time with me or anything, they just assumed I was going to be like, Well, now no one is going to tell me what to do!"
Davis said that she felt "a tremendous feeling of having accomplished something" but knew that winning the award would not be some "magic ticket to doing everything I want to do." The two unnamed directors did not see it that way.
"They wanted to make sure I knew my place," Davis said, "and maybe … it probably wouldn't happen to a man." She added that there may have been an "unconscious bias."
Gender equality is something Davis feels strongly about, which is why she founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in 2004. The aim of the organization is to research gender representation in media while also advocating for equal representation of women.
In a 2015 interview with the Guardian, Davis pointed out that there were "fewer parts for women and less opportunity to do interesting and challenging things."
"What I didn’t know until my daughter was a toddler was that this holds true in what’s made for kids," she continued. "I was horrified that there seemed to be far fewer female characters than male characters in what’s made for little kids in the 21st century. I just assumed that had been taken care of; been thought about; that that kind of sexism wasn’t present in what we’re showing to kids."
Davis noted that the message portrayed is that "girls are not as important as boys, women are not as important as men and they take this all in completely unconsciously."
"Popular media is constantly hammering home the message that women and girls are second-class citizens," she said. "All the efforts that we put in to try and erase it, all the important things that we must do to empower women and girls, are being undermined by this unconscious message that women and girls aren’t as valuable as men."
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