Nikita Richardson
Updated Aug 20, 2015 @ 7:16 am

Between the final installment in The Hunger Games trilogy, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, an Emmy nod for her role on Modern Family, and her Pitch Perfect 2 directorial debut, Elizabeth Banks is having a stellar year. But as she revealed in a recent interview with Deadline, directing Pitch Perfect 2 was her way of addressing sexism in Hollywood, a major issue that’s been rearing its ugly head and which she feels has contributed to the “always the bridesmaid” aspect of her film career.

“Oh, I think [sexism] drove me to direct for sure,” Banks told Deadline. “I definitely was feeling that I was unfulfilled and a little bit bored by the things that were coming across my desk. I mean things like playing Effie (in The Hunger Games) really helped sustain me. She’s so iconic and I love her and people really get to see the movie but I think at a certain point, everything that’s coming across my desk, I’m like, ‘I’m vibrant and vital and interested. I still got my looks.’ I think it’s really just about my peer group.”

Banks elaborated on other aspects of her career as well and made clear just how deliberate all of her career choices are, and just how important it is for her to carve a new path for herself and other women in the industry. “Just watching my peer group get to still have lead roles in movies and know that more and more, those are going to up-and-comers instead of people who are veterans in the industry. I mean I look at Gwyneth Paltrow who has her Oscar and played fifth banana to Iron Man. That to me is a great example of the fate of women in Hollywood. Like what more can you do? I didn’t even date Brad Pitt so what more can I do?”

But, as she points out, her role as Mitch and Cam’s friend, Sal, on Modern Family is a perfect example of how Hollywood can create more three-dimensional characters for actresses.

“I really loved when Sal got married – I thought that show was a really great statement about gay marriage,”says Banks. “You know, to let Sal – who’s crazy and married the guy after knowing him for a minute–she’s able to go get married and Mitch and Cam, who are in a committed relationship and raising a child, are not able to get married. I thought it was a really great episode.”

Banks also thought it was particularly powerful when in a later season, Sal, now a mom, dropped her baby off with Mitch and Cam, leading the couple to believe she’s abandoned him. (Spoiler alert: Sal just needed a break.)

“I think partially I got nominated because it was a turning point for Sal. It was a little bit of Sal’s redemption in this show. It was all about, ‘Is she a little bit reformed, or is she still a party girl with a baby on her hip?’” she says. “I think it was fun to assume that she was still a party girl with a baby on her hip and then realize that babies change you. I’m a mother of two kids and it’s really hard. I thought it was really fun to say on TV as a woman and a mother that motherhood is hard. I don’t think they say that enough.”

And lord knows we don’t see enough female directors in Hollywood either. So hats off to Elizabeth Banks for playing new and exciting characters and taking on important behind-the-camera roles. We need women like her in Hollywood, and are so glad that she’s doing everything that she is.

Check out the whole illuminating and touching interview here.

[Images via ABC and Universal Pictures]