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On Tuesday, Elizabeth Banks accepted an award from Women in Film– a nonprofit group that promotes equal opportunities for women in the film industry – and according to The Wrap, she spoke about her frustrations with Hollywood, calling out legendary director and producer Steven Spielberg in the process.
“I went to ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Jaws’ and every movie Steven Spielberg ever made,” she said, “and by the way, he’s never made a movie with a female lead. Sorry, Steven. I don’t mean to call your ass out, but it’s true.”
Banks is wrong. Spielberg has directed 30 feature films, and three of them have had female leads, and he has a fourth on the way. “The Sugarland Express” (1974) starred Goldie Hawn, “The Color Purple” (1985) starred Whoopie Goldberg, and last year’s “The BFG” starred child actress Ruby Barnhill. Speilberg is also directing “The Papers” starring Meryl Streep, which will come to theaters in 2018.
But while Banks got the facts wrong, she still has a point – 3 out of 30 is a significant imbalance. Huge directors who’ve been making huge films for decades have a bad track record with diversity, including Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers (with the exception of 1996’s “Fargo” and 2010’s “True Grit”). Directors like Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson – despite being men themselves – have managed to work strong female characters into their films, in both minor and major roles, and they haven’t been making movies nearly as long as Spielberg or Scorsese.
Banks’ point is that critically acclaimed directors with wide auidences like Speilberg should take advantage of that platform by telling stories for everyone. In doing so, there can be more opportunities for women both in front of and behind the camera.
Banks also emphasized the importance of showing her sons movies with strong, independent women, like “Frozen” and “Wonder Woman.”
“Buy a f—ing ticket to a movie with a woman, take them, give them the experience of seeing amazing women on film,” she said.