Changemakers

David Oyelowo calls on Hollywood’s leading men to seek out female directors

It's been 2 decades since Leonardo DiCaprio has worked with a female director. (John Phillips/Getty Images)

We already know that Hollywood isn’t great at hiring women to work behind the cameras, but a new investigation by Cosmopolitan suggests that problem may be exacerbated by the fact very few male film stars ever work with female directors. Looking at Hollywood’s 100 top-grossing actors, they found 20 of them (including Matt Damon, Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx) have never worked with a female director, and 21 of them have only worked with a woman once in their career. This includes everything from tiny roles to voice-acting: actors such as Will Smith and Hugh Jackman, for example, only made it on that second list by doing voice work in animation movies that employed female co-directors.

When these actors do appear in movies made by women, however, they usually do so before they start earning the big bucks: Leonardo DiCaprio, for example, has not appeared in a film directed by a woman in over two decades. “[One] root of this is probably salaries: the fact that most male actors make more money than their female counterparts, plus the trend that the female directors who do work make ‘smaller’ movies,” producer Alicia Van Couvering told Cosmopolitan. “Men get used to making money on more and bigger movies — and so they stop working with female directors, whose budgets are typically less than those of men.”

The magazine’s editors emphasized there are several ways Hollywood’s leading men can support women in Hollywood (as executives, producers or screenwriters) and say their results don’t mean to imply they are “sexist or unwilling to work with women.” However, a lot of progress could be made when more men start going out of their way to work with female directors. “If movies are about the expression of humanity, and that’s largely being seen not only through one gender but through one racial demographic, then the world is definitely poorer for it, and actors are definitely poorer for it too,” said David Oyelowo, who acted in four movies in a row directed by women.

“We can complain about inclusion or diversity or all these words that have now become buzz phrases,” Oyelowo said, “but if you have the ability to do anything about it and you don’t, you are part of the problem.”

Read the full story at Cosmopolitan.

Related:

Women have very few behind-the-scenes jobs in Hollywood, study shows

How Hollywood is tackling its gender problem

Kate Winslet describes gender pay gap talk in Hollywood as “a bit vulgar”

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