While the road to gender equality in our society continues to be long, winding, and complicated, there is a new generation of women in the public eye who are leading the pack when it comes to standing up for women, in Hollywood and beyond. Jessica Chastain has openly supported feminist issues that are important to her using her platform as one of film's biggest stars and is doing her part to change the industry. In an interview with Haute Living, Chastain opened up about her female led production company, Freckle Films, and how she's steadfast in supporting other female actors.
What I find most inspiring about Chastain is that she not only voices her concerns about diversity in Hollywood, but she is actively doing something bigger to incite change. One of the first issues that Chastain confronts in her Haute Living profile is the long-running problem with the media pitting other women in the business against each other. One such example she brings up in her own life is the rumor of a supposed "feud" between herself and Jennifer Lawrence, a rumor she has had to dispel since 2013 when they were both nominated in the Best Actress category at the Oscars. Chastain has only had encouraging words for Lawrence, in the past and still today.
She told Haute Living,
There has been a stigma out there that women don’t work well together. I’ve never seen women like this. I remember growing up hearing this myth, that women fight when they’re together and it’s completely inaccurate. I’ve never seen it... The women I know are not like this and I cheer for women to succeed because I know when an actress succeeds that means there’s going to be that many more roles for women because an audience is going to demand it.
The Interstellar star also showed support for Lawrence's op-ed in Lenny Letter that highlighted the gender wage gap in Hollywood. Chastain said,
It was incredible... Sometimes people have that attitude where, "You’re an actress making a lot of money, how dare you complain?" We’ve kind of been programmed to be grateful that we’ve gotten this job, so don’t rock the boat. I don’t think that’s fair. Jennifer Lawrence coming out and saying that was really important.
In fact, Chastain hasn't been afraid to rock the boat and is making sure women will get the representation they deserve in diverse projects in film and television. Last month, Variety reported that she launched a production company. She is also on the advisory board for We Do it Together, another production company focused on "female empowerment in films, TV and other forms of media." She told Haute Living of her new venture,
I’ve always been interested in creating diversity in cinema. I started a production company — all female led, actually, called Freckle Films... The more that people communicate about the problems that we have, the better it’s going to be. That’s how change happens; you can feel it percolating. You look at the Best Picture nominees from last year, and there was not one that had a female protagonist. That is so upsetting to me, because that means that every picture that they deemed worthy of a nomination was from a male point of view. This year, there are four of the seven that have female protagonists.
Freckle Films already has a few films in development and they have optioned two books by female writers, which will mean more work for women in every realm of the business. She said of the future of diversity, “I do think that the industry itself wants to change — we want diversity — and I think it had just gotten stagnant. I think the more that we shake it up, it will make a difference. I’m starting to see it.”
Chastain is a woman in Hollywood who isn't quieting her voice and is only demanding the equality that we should have been getting many years ago. And it's happening, with her help, slowly, yet surely.