Academy Award winning actress speaks to Girl Scouts in Wallingford

Academy Award winning actress speaks to Girl Scouts in Wallingford


Geena Davis spoke to Girl Scouts of Connecticut with journalist Diane Smith Thursday morning about how women are represented in the media at a special event at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford. | Leigh Tauss / Record-Journal

WALLINGFORD — Academy Award winner Geena Davis was watching a children’s show with her daughter and noticed there were few female characters. The actress has since become committed to changing the way women are represented on TV and in films.

Davis shared this story and others with a group of 200 state Girl Scouts and troop leaders at the Toyota Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford Thursday morning.

“I’ve ruined movies for you now because you’re just going to be counting female characters,” Davis told the crowd. “I’ve ruined them for myself.”

The event was organized by Girl Scouts of Connecticut. CEO Mary Barneby said Davis was asked to speak because her foundation, The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, pushes for greater representation of women.

“This event is all about celebrating girls and women and the empowerment of girls and women,” Barneby said. “(Davis’) message, we feel, really resonates with all girls.”

During her discussion with journalist Diane Smith, Davis shared statistics compiled by her institute, including that men outnumber women three to one in G-rated films. In crowd scenes, women typically make up 17 percent of the group.

Women in film and television are rarely seen in leadership roles, Davis said.

“It’s so true that what you see is what you think is possible,” Davis said. “(Girls) are not craving to be leaders because they don’t see it, they don’t see it in real life and they don’t see it on television.“

Davis played the first female president on the ABC series “Commander and Chief.” She said if more shows depicted women in leadership roles, the idea would be more accepted.

“If we show girls in leadership positions, then it starts to look normal,” Davis said. “If we change what kids see first, we won’t create a problem we have to solve later.”

Davis said while it might take hundreds of years to achieve gender equality in real life, in TV and film the problem is more easily corrected.

Ms. Foundation for Women CEO and President Teresa Younger agreed.

“They hold those images out there for girls who are aspiring to be what they see,” Younger said. “Geena’s organization, that fact that she looks at the media and its reflection on us is really important.”

Girl Scout Bridget Smith, 18, of Stamford, has been a scout for 12 years and said the organization has helped her foster friendships and become a confident public speaker. Changing the way women are depicted in the media is just common sense, she said.

“We consume media all the time and the fact that women aren’t shown enough doesn’t make sense,” Smith said. “I think (Davis) has a really good message.” (203) 317-2231 Twitter: @LeighTaussRJ

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