Rose Byrne is just one of many actress working to bridge the gap between male and female decision makers in the entertainment industry.
In 2015, the Neighbors 2 star launched her own female-driven production company called Dollhouse Pictures. As for her inspiration behind Byrne’s venture to bring women to the forefront of film and television, she points to none other than Reese Witherspoon.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Byrne admitted, “Reese is probably my biggest inspiration.” Witherspoon launched Pacific Standard a year prior, finding box office success with films like Gone Girl and Wild.
“It’s definitely been challenging,” Byrne told the mag. “Being on the other side of things and discovering how projects are developed, and how difficult it is to find funding – it’s a whole different way of working for me, but I’m learning a lot.”
So in the spirit of kickass female leaders we’ve rounded up a few who have flipped the script on stereotypes in Hollywood and emerged just as (if not more!) impressive than their male counterparts.
The Interstellar star has long been passionate about gender equality in Hollywood, and in 2014 told Glamour, “I’m not saying, ‘We don’t want movies about men.’ I’m just saying, ‘Come on, all the men I know love women. So let’s also have some stories about these women. Let’s write something for them, guys—and let’s make room for women writers, too.'”
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Elizabeth BanksThis triple threat (actress, producer, director!) proved business and pleasure can work seamlessly when she founded Brownstone Productions with hubby Max Handelman.
We can thank Banks’ decision to get behind the camera for the wildly popular Pitch Perfect franchise, with its second installment grossing more than $280 million worldwide. To top it off, Banks balances raising two young sons with her professional career, making it look all too easy along the way.
Eva LongoriaThe actress has stayed loyal to her Latin background, producing American Latino Media Arts award shows and a documentary called Latinos Living The American Dream.
For Longoria, the fight for wider representation in entertainment across all demographics is more than skin deep. “Look, I think the Hispanic community is making progress on television,” Longoria told the Los Angeles Times. “But we’re still severely underrepresented.”
“When it comes to diversity in television, we have to have more people behind the camera,” she added. “We have to have more producers and writers—specifically, writers—in order to create those stories and dig from the well of our community, which has been untapped. And that’s what we’re doing here.”
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Drew BarrymoreThe actress was ahead of the curve when she launched Flower Films in 1995, which went on to spawn such flicks as Never Been Kissed, Donnie Darko, and Charlie’s Angels.
She told The Guardian last year, “I feel so lucky for the opportunities I did have. I mean, I was 23 when I made Never Been Kissed, that was our first movie as Flower Films, and it was for Fox and they took a risk on me.”
“I literally went in in corduroy pants and a backpack, in the age of the power suit. We did not fit the part, and we wanted to do it our way, and they let us,” Drew added.
Sanda Bullock: She’s an extremely accomplished actress in her own right with an Academy Award as well as a Golden Globe to her name. But it’s Bullock’s passion for her work as the head of Fortis Films that really has paved the way for aspiring filmmakers.
The Blindside star recalled to Variety in 2014 about an instance that shaped her perception of being a woman in the industry for years to come.
“I was destroyed, because you can’t unsee something,” she said of working as a young actress. “Was I so naïve up to this point to actually think that I was on an equal level with everybody? It was the way I was being treated, because I was female, versus the way others were being treated.”
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Most recently, the Friends alum spoke out against the objectification of women in the media, writing, “This past month in particular has illuminated for me how much we define a woman’s value based on her marital and maternal status. The sheer amount of resources being spent right now by press trying to simply uncover whether or not I am pregnant (for the bajillionth time… but who’s counting) points to the perpetuation of this notion that women are somehow incomplete, unsuccessful, or unhappy if they’re not married with children.
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“I do feel a responsibility. I feel women are portrayed in a way that can be quite daunting for a young woman, for any woman—the idea that we have to look a certain way, when those models who are beautiful to start with are airbrushed as well; it’s the idea of achieving some sort of perfection to be able to be successful, to be able to be loved; it’s a lot of pressure, and I think showing flawed and real people is important,” the Million Dollar Baby star shared.
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Lena DunhamThe Girls frontwoman has never been shy when it comes to voicing her dissent over the current state of women in the workplace. So she took matters into her own hands and set forth to bring a wider female perspective to comedy with her own production company, A Casual Romance.
She told Variety of the endeavor, “We wanted a place to nurture other artists.” Her co-founder Jenni Konner added, “The only men around are male interns. Not on purpose. That’s the way it worked out.”
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