Presidential candidate addresses Hollywood's gender barriers

By Oliver Gettell
Updated June 03, 2016 at 09:28 PM EDT
Credit: AP Photo/John Locher

As Hillary Clinton vies to become the first woman to sit in the Oval Office, she’s also pledging to dismantle gender barriers elsewhere — including Hollywood.

Speaking at a campaign rally at West Los Angeles College on Friday — attended by such showbiz veterans as Elizabeth Banks, Sally Field, Mary Steenburgen, Debra Messing, and Sophia Bush — Clinton said, “We are going to break the celluloid ceiling.”

Moments before, the Democratic presidential candidate observed, “We’re holding this event during the L.A. Film Festival, and in fact, this year I’m told about half of the directors are women. So we’re moving toward answering the age-old question: Are Americans ready for a woman director?”

Clinton’s remarks come at a time in which gender inequality on both sides of the camera (and diversity in general) has become a hot topic in the film industry.

Last year, for example, the Directors Guild of America released a report showing that of the 376 films released in 2013 and 2014, 82.4 percent were directed by Caucasian males and just 6.4 percent were directed by women.

The ACLU also asked federal and state agencies to formally investigate discriminatory hiring practices in Hollywood, citing statistics indicating that the number of female directors working in film and TV had actually declined in recent years. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has since launched an investigation into the issue.

Several high-profile actresses have also spoken out about sexism in the industry and the gender pay gap, including Jennifer Lawrence in a Lenny Letter essay, Patricia Arquette in her 2015 Oscar acceptance speech (and beyond), and Meryl Streep in a letter to Congress.