In case you were too distracted by her Twitter-famous dog to notice, Carrie Fisher just dropped a truth bomb on Good Morning America: Older actresses struggle to find work in Hollywood.
Fisher, 59, who plays General Leia in the upcoming “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” replied bluntly after interviewer Amy Robach asked: Did it take some convincing for you to return to the George Lucas franchise?
“No, I’m a female in Hollywood over the age of, let’s say, 40. We could also say 50,” Fisher said on Friday. “You don’t have to ask if you want to work at that age.”
Any prospect of work is exciting, she suggested, because it happens so rarely.
The statistics back her up. In the 100 top-grossing films of 2014, the number of women over the age of 45 in a leading role was... Zero.
A recent analysis from the University of Southern California found female protagonists, of all ages, are dramatically outnumbered by men on the silver screen. From 2007 to 2014, women played 30.2 percent of all speaking or named characters in the biggest 700 movies. And they were overwhelmingly young, white and straight.
“It sends a message about who’s valued and who’s not," co-author Stacy Smith told me when the report was published in August. "It doesn’t reflect the demography of our population.”
In a country that loves Meryl Streep (66 years old), Halle Berry (49) and Holland Taylor (72), it’s easy to wonder: What’s going on here?
Smith’s team at USC found one possible culprit: The people who write, direct and cast Hollywood films are mostly, well, men.
Across last year’s top films, women represented only 15.8 percent of “content creators,” or those working as directors, writers and producers. Movies with more female content creators feature more female leads, the researchers point out.
The data also show that, when films have at least one female screenwriter attached, they feature more actresses between the ages of 40 and 64.
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