25 Actresses on Women in Hollywood

Lena, Tina, Mindy, Salma, Taraji, and more

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Actress Rose McGowan added fuel to the debate about women in Hollywood when she tweeted on Wednesday that her agent dropped her over speaking out against sexism. And despite this being the summer of 'girl power' on screen – Charlize taking control in Mad Max: Fury Road, Melissa McCarthy as undercover agent in Spy and The Barden Bellas in Pitch Perfect 2 – the movie-making world still very much remains a boys’ club.

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According to the annual Celluloid Ceiling report by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, only 16% of directors, screenwriters, executive producers and editors are women. That's no higher than where we were in 1998. Meanwhile, women accounted for only 12% of protagonists in the top grossing films of last year. And when women do appear in movies, they are five times more likely to receive appearance-based comments than men.

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With all that in mind, Rose McGowan’s outburst is totally justifiable. And she’s certainly not alone. We've rounded up a list of quotes from some of our favourite women in Hollywood who have spoken out.

Viola Davis: 'The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.'

Meryl Streep: 'We need the door to be opened in our industry. In the director's branch of the academy, there is something wrong that there are so few women. In the directors guild, there is something profoundly wrong. It's not like the film schools aren't graduating thousands of young women. They're going to festivals, they're winning prizes, their films are seen and they disappear. So then do our stories. My story is disappearing, and I can't allow it, on behalf of my daughters and also my son.'

Helen Mirren: [on James Bond] 'It’s ridiculous. Honestly, it’s so annoying. And ’twas ever thus. We all watched James Bond as he got more and more geriatric, and his girlfriends got younger and younger. It’s so annoying.'

Keira Knightley: 'Where are the female stories? Where are they? Where are the directors, where are the writers? It’s imbalanced, so given that we are half the cinema-going public, we are half the people [who] watch drama or watch anything else, where is that? So yes, I think the pay is a huge thing, but I’m actually more concerned over the lack of our voices being heard.'

Amanda Seyfried: 'A few years ago, on one of my big-budget films, I found I was being paid 10 percent of what my male co-star was getting, and we were pretty even in status.'

Amy Poehler: 'It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for. It takes years to find your voice and your real estate.'

Halle Berry: 'I started almost 25 years ago. Television was different, what women could and could not do was different. And being a person of color, I was making a way out of no way. That was quite different than it is today for women of color. I also came from a modeling and beauty pageant background. And that didn’t help at all with my credibility. I had to somehow find ways to shed that persona and to let the industry know that I was to be taken seriously. I had studied [acting], I was not just a model who said, ‘Oh, now I want to act because what else do I have to do?’ It took me years to build that respect within the community.'

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Laverne Cox: 'I have always been aware that I can never represent all trans people. No one or two or three trans people can. This is why we need diverse media representstions [sic] of trans folks to multiply trans narratives in the media and depict our beautiful diversities.'

Claire Danes: 'Yes, women have more freedom and more influence than ever, but it’s hardly equal. It’s just not. It’s really f***ing crazy. I’m sorry I’m cursing. But it’s wild that women are underrepresented [in Hollywood]. I have real anxiety about directing, and that’s something to question and challenge and correct.'

Emma Thompson: 'I remember saying years and years ago, when I was 35, that they’d have to exhume somebody to play my leading man … Nothing’s changed in that regard. If anything, it’s got worse...I remember somebody saying to me that I was too old for Hugh Grant, who’s like a year younger than me, in Sense and Sensibility. I said, ‘Do you want to go take a flying leap?'

Salma Hayek: ‘They don’t see us as a powerful economic force. It’s incredible ignorance. Hollywood doesn’t have this business vision.'

Amy Schumer: ‘I don’t think they want to hear a woman talk for too long. A lot of people project their mom yelling at them. My [career] has been about tricking people into listening. I’m not saying all men hate women, but there’s such an aggression.’

Taraji Henson: ‘I want to play a super hero, I want to play a Bond girl, I want to play a man, I want to play a white woman. I want to play everything I’ve never played before.’

Lena Dunham: ‘The statistics are pretty abysmal. It’s our job as women who have been given a certain amount of success and visibility to pull other women along with us.’

Tina Fey: ‘I have a suspicion that the definition of 'crazy' in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to f**k her anymore.’

Ava DuVernay: ‘If we don't do it, who's gonna do it? If a woman filmmaker doesn't take special care of a woman character, who does it? It's not gonna be the man.’

Mindy Kaling: ‘I think that the sort of sexism that I see has been one that’s a little bit like a gentler form of sexism, but still a little bit debilitating, which is that when, as a producer and a writer, whether it was at <The Office> with, like, an Actor: If I decided there’d be a certain way in the script, it would still seem open-ended, whereas…if I was a man I would not have seen that.’

Kerry Washington: ‘Having your story told as a woman, as a person of color, as a lesbian or as a trans person or as any member of any disenfranchised community is sadly often still a radical idea. There is so much power in storytelling, and there is enormous power in inclusive storytelling, in inclusive representations.’

Maggie Gyllenhall (after being told she was ‘too old’ to play a role): ‘[It’s one of the] disappointing things about being an actress in Hollywood. It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made feel angry, and then it made me laugh.’

Charlize Theron: ‘If you’re doing the same job you should be compensated and treated in the same way.’

Rebel Wilson: ‘I have done three big movies with men – these are talented, strong-minded males, but you have to find a way to work that system. You aren’t being paid much and you start at a disadvantage with the script. Usually, you don’t have any cool jokes and you’re there to support the male actor.’

Kristen Wigg: ‘If a female writer says that, 'No, really, this is how women think.' Or, 'Really, this is how women talk.' I think people have to start trusting that a little bit.’

Melissa McCarthy: ‘For someone who has two daughters, I'm wildly aware of how deep that rabbit hole goes. But I just don't want to start listening to that stuff. I'm trying to take away the double standard of 'You're an unattractive bitch because your character was not skipping along in high heels.’

Carey Mulligan: ‘When will [the film industry] catch up with the fact that [women-centric] films do well? It’s just like what Cate Blanchett said at the Oscars. The hunger for female-driven stories is there. You just have to make the films. This shock over how these films do so well is a bit tired now. Jennifer Lawrence can open movies like any male star.’

Alicia Vikander: 'Of course I’ve had a run of great opportunities and characters to play, but I was shooting this scene with Holliday Grainger that just felt like something new. It just came so easily, and we were having so much fun. And only when we were chatting afterwards did I suddenly realise why: I’d just made five films in a row, and this was the first one where I had a scene with another woman...I just felt so embarrassed that I hadn’t realised that earlier. Women talking together – apparently it is a reality! Who knew? And while we talk about the lack of female leads in films today, male domination is just as strong in supporting roles.”

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