Elizabeth Banks apologized Thursday for incorrectly asserting that Steven Spielberg has never made a movie with a female lead, and for appearing to dismiss the significance of his 1985 adaptation of The Color Purple.
“I messed up,” the actress and filmmaker said in a statement posted to her social media accounts. “When referring to Steven Spielberg at the Women in Film awards, I framed my comments about his films inaccurately. I want to be clear from the start that I take full responsibility for what I said and I’m sorry.”
Banks singled out Spielberg Tuesday evening while receiving an honor at Women in Film’s Crystal + Lucy Awards. During her acceptance speech, she called for greater female representation on screen and claimed Spielberg had never made a film with a female protagonist.
Shari Belafonte was among those in attendance and attempted to point out that Spielberg directed The Color Purple — which starred Whoopi Goldberg and stands as a cultural touchstone, particularly for black women — but the correction didn’t register with Banks. (Spielberg’s Sugarland Express and The BFG also featured female leads.)
“When I made the comments, I was thinking of recent films Steven directed, it was not my intention to dismiss the [importance] of the iconic #TheColorPurple,” Banks said in her mea culpa. “I made things worse by giving the impression that I was dismissing Shari Belafonte when she attempted to correct me. I spoke with Shari backstage and she was kind enough to forgive me.”
She concluded, “Those who have the privilege and honor of directing and producing films should be held to account for our mistakes, whether it’s about diversity or inaccurate statements. I’m very sorry.”