A recent study from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism reported that only 28.4% of the 4,475 speaking characters in 100 of the most successful films in 2012 were female. It was a 4.4% drop since 2009. On-screen women are still struggling to have a voice in media, but the actresses who play them have plenty to say off-screen about the state of female characters in Hollywood and television. We looked to ten different actresses for their thoughts on the difficulties and successes women experience when playing women.
Natalie Portman discussed the pressure of playing up to the token “strong” woman in cinema during her recent interview with Elle (via The Mary Sue), responding to the notion that if a woman shows weakness or vulnerability, she’s not a feminist:
“I want [female characters] to be allowed to be weak and strong and happy and sad — human, basically. The fallacy in Hollywood is that if you’re making a ‘feminist’ story, the woman kicks ass and wins. That’s not feminist, that’s macho. A movie about a weak, vulnerable woman can be feminist if it shows a real person that we can empathize with.”