Maisie Williams has a plan for combatting sexist roles in Hollywood
It’s no secret that Hollywood has a major sexism problem. There’s the issue of unequal pay — something that the World’s Highest Paid Actor list released earlier this month most certainly highlighted; there’s also the fact that the industry’s gender discrimination in general is very real and pervasive. This is an issue on which various world-renowned actresses have spoken out, including Kristen Stewart, Patricia Arquette, Jessica Chastain, Carey Mulligan, Rose Byrne, Zoe Saldana. . . the list goes on and on. Now, we can add another major Hollywood actress to the list: Maisie Williams.
In an interview that London newspaper Evening Standard published on Thursday, Maisie opened up about the difficulties and challenges of being a woman in the industry. “There are a lot of roles that come in that are ‘the girlfriend’ or ‘the hot piece’ in a movie or TV series,” she told Evening Standard.
It’s an issue that’s rampant in Hollywood, Maisie explained. “That’s something I’ve seen first-hand and read all the time,” she continued. “It will say ‘Derek: intelligent, good with kids, funny, really good at this’ and then it will say ‘Sandra: hot in a sort of cute way’ — and that’s all you get. That’s the way your character is described, so going into an audition you are channelling ‘hot,’ which isn’t like a person. That’s not who a person is. That’s what I see and that’s what needs to change.”
Of course, Maisie is well aware how lucky she’s been to play strong, powerful characters from the very start. Actresses can’t always be as choosy as they’d like to be about parts, and she knows that. “I’ve been lucky enough to play a very great female character from a young age, who is a fantastic role model for girls,” she added. (Yeah, seriously: Who could possibly be more empowering and badass than Arya Stark?)
But Maisie has an idea for how actresses can combat these sexist roles in Hollywood and turn them around. “I just hope that if we stop playing those characters, they’ll stop being written,” she offered. “It’s a very big thing to say for me, on behalf of all the women in this industry.”
Of course, major roles are hard to come by in the acting world, and often, actresses have to take what they can get. There are often fewer roles for women — especially roles that have multiple dimensions and portray the character as more than just a supporting crutch for another male character.
That said, we think it’s amazing that Maisie is ready to reject any “crutch” role in favor of developed female characters that are great role models for girls and women everywhere. This isn’t the first time Maisie has stood up for the representation and rights of women. Last month, she gave an amazing speech on what it means to be a girl at the Always #LikeAGirl Confidence Summit in New York.
“It’s time for society to stop telling girls what they should and shouldn’t do,” BuzzFeed reported Maisie saying. “Fight for yours, grab it with both hands, and hold it like the course of your future depends on it. Because it does. . . The world is desperate for leaders, male and female. It’s not about gender, it’s about purpose. . . Fan your fire, move from your core, and be quick on your feet. Sharp in your mind, gentle in your heart. Be authentic. If you can do all that? Well then get ready for greatness. Chin up, chest out. You are unstoppable. Like a girl.”
We love Arya Stark, but we love Maisie Williams better. She refuses to stop fighting off-screen for the rights of women and girls everywhere. Thanks, Maisie — and we sincerely hope your efforts change the sexism in Hollywood for the better very, very soon.
(Images via HBO and Instagram)