The gender-equality debate in Hollywood rages on as women continue to get underpaid and become the victims of sexism, ageism and many other types of -isms in the film and television industries. Jessica Chastain has been one of the biggest advocates for equality in Hollywood, and she’s now penned an essay from a women-filled film set that has her inspired.
While in Prague filming The ZooKeeper’s Wife with female director Niki Caro, Chastain talks about the importance of having women in leadership and powerful roles in the industry.
I can’t tell you ” it’s amazing. I’ve never been on a set with so many women, she writes. We’re not even 50 percent of the crew ” we’re probably something like 20 percent women and 80 percent men ” but it’s way more than I’ve ever worked with on a film before.
The producers, screenwriter, lead actors, camera operator and stunt coordinator on the set of The Zookeeper’s Wife are all women — an unusual setup for a Hollywood film.
Chastain goes on to say that a set in which both genders are fairly represented, regardless of the type of film being made, will be a healthy place.
I imagine it’s the same thing in the workforce or other environments: When you have both genders represented, then you have a healthier point of view. The energy is great, you all are working together as a community, and everyone is participating in the exchange of ideas. You don’t feel a hierarchy; you don’t have anyone feeling like they are being left out or bullied or humiliated. Sometimes being the only girl on a set, you can feel like a sexual object.
The unfortunate truth, as Chastain points out, is that women filmmakers have a much harder time than men in the same positions. Caro, for example, has been working in the industry for many years, but is still not getting the opportunities she should. I don’t want to be part of the statistics when only about 4 percent of Hollywood studio movies are directed by women. I don’t want my percentages to be the same as the status quo.
Women like Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence who continue to talk about the inequalities women face in Hollywood is already a step in the right direction. Talking about it, getting their voices heard, and ensuring the world knows the realities of being a woman in Hollywood can also help to spark change in other industries. Women in tech don’t have it easy, and the wage gap is one that exists in every industry — and it’s about time people start taking notice.
You can read Chastain’s entire essay at The Hollywood Reporter.