Speed Reads

gender equality

Jessica Chastain laments Hollywood's sexism: 'I have to go through male actors to be heard'

Jessica Chastain makes it a point to act in films that have women on set. Since 2008, four of Chastain's 21 features have been shot by female directors, a notably high 19 percent in an industry in which a mere 4 percent of studio films are directed by women on average. The movie she's filming right now, The Zookeeper's Wife with director Niki Caro, employs a higher percentage of women than any other set she's worked on — and, Chastain writes in her recent Hollywood Reporter essay, it makes a huge difference.

Gone is the feeling of a "hierarchy" or of being "bullied or humiliated" or treated like a "sexual object," Chastain says. "I've been on sets a couple times where I've noticed that if I have any idea about a scene, I have to go through the male actors to be heard," she writes. "It's really annoying. The male actor will have a better relationship with the male director, so I have to get the actor on my side. That's the only thing that sometimes feels very icky."

And that's not the way Chastain thinks it should be — especially in 2015:

"For me, sex really isn't a qualifier in the way someone directs — but I just know that when you have a set with predominantly one gender, whether it be all men or all women, it's not going to be a healthy place. I imagine it's the same thing in the workforce or other environments: When you have both genders represented, then you have a healthier point of view." [The Hollywood Reporter]

Read Chastain's full essay over at The Hollywood Reporter.