Meryl Streep shared her theory about why it’s hard for female filmmakers to break into the entertainment industry Wednesday night acting as a panelist at the Women in the World Summit. The actress was joined by Selma director, Ava DuVernay, and Pakistani documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, for “Story Power: Three Great Women in Film,” to share their thoughts on what it’s like for women in entertainment today.
“A lot of it has to do with imagination and this act of empathy women go through from the time we’re little girls,” the Oscar winner said. “We read all of literature, you know? All of history. It’s really about boys, most of it. But I can feel more like Peter Pan than Wendy or Tinkerbell. I wanted to be Tom Sawyer, not Becky.”
According to the Oscar winner, it’s difficult for her as an actress to have a story “men in the audience feel like they know what I feel.” She added that studios are aware of how “hard” it is for men to put themselves in the shoes of a female protagonist.
A recent study from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University found that only 12 percent of protagonists were women. Ironically, some of the biggest box office numbers of the year came from The Hunger Games‘ heroine, Katniss, along with Gone Girl and Maleficent.
“We’re so used to the act of empathizing with the protagonist of a male-driven plot,” Streep said. “That’s what we’ve done all our lives.”