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(Yonhap Interview) U.S. movie star Geena Davis calls for gender balance in media
SEOUL, Oct. 11 (Yonhap) -- Geena Davis, an Academy Award winning Hollywood actress and an advocate for women and girls, said Thursday she will continue to strive to promote equal gender depiction in the media.

   As the head of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the 56-year-old actress visited Seoul to attend the 49th ABU General Assembly, an annual meeting hosted by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU).

   "While watching television programs with my daughter, I was astounded by the lack of female characters," Davis said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency. "This maybe (is the reason why) I decided to help improve the situation."
In 2004, Davis founded the research-based organization to work within the media and entertainment industries to engage, educate and influence the need for gender balance, a reduction of stereotypes and the creation of a wide variety of female characters.

   Since then, the institute has been at the forefront of changing the portrayal of females and gender stereotypes, by commissioning large research projects on gender in film and television.

   The institute holds a biennial symposium to release its research and showcase it to producers in the film industry. The actress also regularly meets with movie and animated film producers in attempts to change how they think about gender balance.

   Despite her efforts, Davis said there is still "no improvement because the ratio of female to male characters has been exactly the same since 1964."

   "If we add female characters at the rate they have been, we will have equality in 700 years," the actress said, citing a study. "It's the same thing in other sectors of the society. If we add women to congress (at the current rate), it will take 500 years (to reach equality.)"

   Last year, she appeared in "Miss Representation," a documentary film about the under-representation of women and the media's limited portrayal of powerful women.

   Davis, a Special Envoy for Women and Girls for Information and Communication Technology of the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU), was awarded by the ITU in May, 2012, for her work.

   "Now, I will be able to get involved on a global scale in empowering women and girls through technology and new media," Davis said.

   "We are raising funds for the first global study on gender depiction in the media," Davis said. "I hope to cover (South) Korea in the study."

   Davis emphasized that she chooses parts based on characters that have something challenging or interesting about them, saying those roles have impacted on her life.

   "I always think about women in the audience," she said.

   Davis broke ground in her portrayal of the first female president of the United States in ABC’s hit show, "Commander in Chief.”
"A survey was conducted after the series was over ... There were 69 percent of (respondents) saying that they would voter for a female candidate." Davis said, illustrating the affect the media has on the general public.

   "Thelma & Louise," which earned critical success for embracing feminist values, was picked by Davis as her favorite movie.

   "I think my favorite character was Thelma. I was surprised and very impacted by the fact that it meant a lot to women. It seemed that women were able to identify with female characters, and feel excited and inspired by them," she said.

   "I think a metaphor of the movie is being in control of your own destiny," she added.

   In 1989, Davis received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in "The Accidental Tourist" and also earned the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series Drama.

  


khj@yna.co.kr
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