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10 Feminists Changing Hollywood

Patricia Arquette

With Emily Blunt calling out Cannes for its ridiculous no-flats policy and Salma Hayek accusing cinema of undermining females while promoting her latest movie at the festival, we take a look / applaud the women who are shaking up Hollywood and making it a more equal place for all involved.

1. Rose Byrne

This month’s cover star for IMAGE is so proud of her feminist beliefs that she’s even set up a production company devoted to showcasing female talent. The Dollhouse Collective is the brainchild of the Australian actress and her industry friends. The concept was spurred into life by Byrne’s own experiences with the old boys network that is the Hollywood hills. In our interview with the Bridesmaids and Spy star, which is on shelves tomorrow (Friday May 22nd), the 35-year-old says, “I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with the reality that good roles are very hard to find for women, and that women are underrepresented in this business.”

ICYMI: Rose Byrne launches women-led production company

The Dollhouse Collective already produces scripts by and for women, so watch this space for some potentially box office-record breaking hits. After all, we’re living in a climate where Pitch Perfect 2, a film with a mostly female cast and female director, can beat Mad Max: Fury Road, a film not without girl power credentials, at the box office with a whopper opening weekend.

ICYMI: Why women-led movies are killing it at the box office

2. Amy Schumer

Comedian Amy Schumer is the name of 2015. Her show had been building a steady underground reputation on Comedy Central the past few seasons, but this was the year she made all the headlines with skits that tore apart gender norms and made us howl with laughter. It helps that she has a movie out this summer, a romantic comedy called Trainwreck produced by Judd Apatow.

Watch: Your Last F***able Day

She skewered Hollywood’s double standards on ageing brilliantly in her viral sketch Your Last F***able Day and is also supporting other women in comedy with spots on her show. Just this week our Maeve Higgins made an appearance in a doggy day care skit.

3. Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes is nails. Not only did she create the television juggernaut that is Grey’s Anatomy, but she’s also the creative brains behind Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder. She’s broken the mould with her colour-blind casting, meaning that actors of all ethnicities are considered for a role, and the roles she’s created for women are second-to-none. She’s redefined the role of the showrunner and is a force to be reckoned with.

ICYMI: Did Shonda Rhimes fire Patrick Dempsey of Grey’s Anatomy because of an on-set affair?

Thanks to Shonda Rhimes, women carry shows with complex storylines that focus on careers more than romantic complications. We’re of the opinion that if Shonda didn’t get Grey’s on screen, then shows such as The Good Wife and Orange is the New Black would not have stood a chance.

4. Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham is pilloried on the internet if she so much as sneezes. The fact that this young talent continues writing, acting and directing Girls, her hit HBO show, means that she’s setting an example to young women of her generation. Don’t let the trolls get you down. Be brave. Keep creating. And if someone so much as thinks of body-shaming you, slay them with an Instagram post, the ultimate modern FU.

5. Patricia Arquette

Patricia Arquette’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar win for Boyhood set the internet on fire in February. And for good reason, the actress decided to use this global platform as a space to take the movie industry to task for underpaying women.

Cross stich this quote onto all your empowering decorative pillows: “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

6. Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling’s status as one of the funniest writers and actresses on the small screen has been cemented with her involvement in the US version of The Office and her show The Mindy Project. As a woman of colour in Hollywood, with a normal figure to boot, she’s had to work hard to have her slightly un-PC jokes heard. In The Mindy Project, her character is an anti-heroine with occasional one-liners that would make you choke on your tap water in a public restaurant scenario. She’s also not afraid to talk about race.

Mindy’s success shows us that just because you’re breaking one of the many glass ceilings does not mean you can’t be hilarious and edgy while doing so. Role models are not necessarily head girl in school material.

7. Emma Watson

Emma Watson’s F card needs no further explanation. The Harry Potter actress is the face and voice of the UN Women gender equality campaign HeForShe and is an active supporter of the cause on social media. She’s even used her work connections to some seriously handsome actors to promote women’s rights across social media.

8. Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep is beyond inspirational. She’s won three Academy Awards and has earned the most Oscar nominations of any actor in the history of the awards.

Her career is a masterclass in how talent trumps everything else, with her roles only improving as she ages. Meryl has also managed this incredible career while being a mother to four children, having a solid marriage in an industry notorious for break-ups, and nursing her then-lover, the actor John Cazale, through a terminal illness in the late 1970s.

In recent months, Streep has announced that she is supporting a screenwriters lab for women writers aged 40-plus in New York.

9. Kristen Stewart

The Twilight actress is a divisive one in office conversation, but you can’t deny the girl has buckets of moxie. In a recent interview, she was blisteringly honest about the realities young actresses are dealing with. “Hollywood is disgustingly sexist. It’s crazy. It’s so offensive it’s crazy,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. Stewart refuses to mince her words and isn’t afraid of risking the wrath of higher-ups in a bid to draw negative attention to the industry.

Also, there’s the fact that Stewart’s personal life was subject to one of the internet’s most vicious witch hunts. When her relationship with co-star Robert Pattinson ended after tabloid photos showed her cheating on the English actor, his fans took to social media to call her every horrible name under the judgmental sun. That Kristen emerged from such an experience with her head held high and scored critically acclaimed roles means she’s one of the strongest women in the industry.

10. Maggie Gyllenhaal

Maggie’s role in Secretary is praised in feminist circles for opening up a complex dialogue about desire that makes Fifty Shades of Grey look like it was written with crayons. The actress continues to trail blaze with her career choices, with BBC’s The Honourable Woman showcasing a female businesswoman whose story drew us to the small screen every week last summer. Maggie continues to draw our undying respect this week, after divulging that at 37-years-old she was told she was too old to play a 55-year-old man’s love interest. She told The Wrap that “It made me feel bad, and then it made feel angry, and then it made me laugh.” Ridicule is the best revenge.

Follow Jeanne Sutton on Twitter @jeannedesutun

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