Amanda Pendolino
June 25, 2013

Ellen Page Talks Lack of Female Film Roles

This summer’s crop of movies has been pretty disappointing when it comes to roles for women — and Ellen Page is sick of it.

Over the weekend, the 26-year-old actress — who became a household name with Juno and has been picky about roles since — discussed what she looks for in characters in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session.

“Considering there are so few roles for women and the roles that do exist can be so narrow in their idea of what a woman can be, it is extremely important to me to be involved with projects where the girl is in charge of her own destiny and is honest and well written,” she said.

Ellen’s latest role is Izzy in The East, a film about a private intelligence firm that must infiltrate an anarchist group known for targeting major corporations.

Photo credit: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

Photo credit: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

We need more actresses like Ellen to demand good roles for women — and we need the women in power behind the scenes to fight for better roles, too. Last month, Sony studio chief Amy Pascal described what needs to happen: “The most important thing in the job that we do here is to make movies about women where they are characters that have consequences in the story,” she said.

“They can be villains, they can be protagonists, I don’t care, but their movements, their actions what they do in the plot has to actually matter. And that’s the most important thing because young girls coming up are going to see that they matter that your not an appendage to someone else — that you’re not married to the person, not their sister or friend or girlfriend, you actually are the plot.”

Photo credit: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

Photo credit: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

Getting more women into the director’s chair should help. Amy admitted of female directors, “I think that the whole system is geared for them to fail.”

On the bright side, many actresses are now using their fame and influence to become directors. Courteney Cox is the latest example of an actress who has set a feature directing project.

We also need Hollywood to buy more scripts from female screenwriters. A recent infographic from researcher Susana Orozco at screenwriting blog Go Into the Story demonstrates the number of female-penned “spec” scripts (speculative screenplays written for free in the hopes that they can be sold later) accounted for just 9 percent of sales in 2011 and 2012, down from 14 percent from 1991 to 2000. Yep, it was already dismal and it’s getting worse.

If we can get Amy and other women in power to do more o value women as writers and directors, we’re bound to see more exciting roles for Ellen, and more movies with well-rounded female characters.