“I’d like to bring to light an aspect of our industry that has risen to the surface in the last week,” Larson, 28, said at the podium Wednesday night during the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards in Los Angeles. “This issue has a solution that each one of us in this room can participate in.”
The University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusivity Initiative released a report on Monday analyzing the critics behind Rotten Tomatoes reviews for the 100 highest-grossing movies of 2017. Out of 19,559 reviews, the report determined 77.8 percent were written by men, specifically 63.9 percent were written by white men, 82 percent were written by white critics, 4.1 percent were written by women of color, and 18.1 percent were written by white women.
“I don’t need a 40-year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work about A Wrinkle in Time,” Larson, accepting the Crystal Award for Excellence in Film, said. “It wasn’t made for him! I want to know what it meant to women of color, biracial women, to teen women of color, to teens that are biracial.”
“Am I saying I hate white dudes? No, I am not,” she added. “What I am saying is if you make a movie that is a love letter to women of color, there is an insanely low chance a woman of color will have a chance to see your movie, and review your movie.”
Watch clips of Larson’s speech, taken by The Hollywood Reporter‘s Rebeca Sun, below.
After laying out points for supporting more diversity among journalists — including asking studios to give underrepresented voices access to their red carpets — Larson also announced a new development for the Sundance Film Festival.
A rep for the Sundance Institute later confirmed to EW that festival organizers are “committing to allocating at least 20 percent of our top-level press passes to critics who are women and people of color for next year’s Festival; this is a key part of a larger plan to ensure that the work we showcase will be discussed by a wide and inclusive range of voices and critical perspectives.”
“If you are in this room or you know someone who is a gatekeeper, please make sure that these invites and credentials find their way to more underrepresented journalists and critics — many of whom are freelancers,” Larson said.
Jessica Chastain, another Hollywood actress who’s been using her platform to support inclusion in the industry, gave Larson a shoutout on social media for her speech. “This is so important. Thank you @brielarson,” she wrote.
Larson will soon be seen as Marvel Comics strong-woman Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel, hitting theaters on March 8, 2019. The actress said it was a difficult decision to take the role, in part because of her want to remain within her “own little bubble and remain anonymous and invisible.”
“Ultimately,” she told Vanity Fair in April of last year, “I couldn’t deny the fact that this movie is everything I care about, everything that’s progressive and important and meaningful, and a symbol I wished I would’ve had growing up. I really, really feel like it’s worth it if it can bring understanding and confidence to young women — I’ll do it.”