Was there ever a time when we didn't get to bask in the glow of Jessica Chastain and her feminism? It's hard to believe, but yes, there was, as the awe-inspiring actor only broke into the scene in 2011 with roles like The Help and Tree of Life. Ever since, she's been a powerful voice, reminding Hollywood that women deserve respect and equal treatment. Chastain has had some truly incredible feminist and activist moments throughout her career, and it's great to see that she's not only an amazing actor, but an advocate for those who don't have the luxury of benefiting from a position of power like hers.
The entertainment industry is a complicated and often harsh place, and those who make it to the top by virtue of their own talents aren't required to make any changes in light of any unfairness they may see. But that doesn't stop Chastain from speaking out, acting out, and being an altogether thoughtful, pro-active person when it comes to issues like equality for women in Hollywood and suicide prevention.
The following are Chastain's best feminist and activist moments from over the years.
1When She Shut Down The Idea That Women Can't Get Along
In a 2016 interview with Haute Living, Chastain refuted the 2012-2013 Oscar season rumors that she and Jennifer Lawrence were in a feud due to their competing for awards. She addressed the myth that women can't support each other, saying, "I remember growing up hearing this myth, that women fight when they’re together and it’s completely inaccurate. I’ve never seen it."
2When She Came Up With More Feminist Fairy Tale Endings
While being interviewed by USA Today about about her appearance in the film The Huntsman: Winter's War. Chastain shared feminist re-writes of popular fairy tales from The Little Mermaid ("He would become a merman. She loves it under the sea!") to Rapunzel ("Just take some sheets and tie them together and get down yourself.") Her ideas are pretty great.
3When She Shared Her Thoughts On On-Screen Equality
When discussing the film The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His and Her with The Wrap, Chastain spoke about the types of roles she wants to play. For her, the important thing isn't having a huge role, it's having a role that showcases development. A female character shouldn't simply serve to move the plot forward for the male character.
4When She Helped Launch A Female Empowerment-Focused Production Company
In February 2016, Chastain joined We Do It Together, a nonprofit organization that was created to produce and finance films, television, and other media that change the perceptions of stereotypes towards women. The star-studded board also includes Queen Latifah, Freida Pinto, Juliette Binoche, and many more incredible women in the industry.
5When She Made Her Superhero Movie Dreams Crystal Clear
Chastain shared with The Guardian in 2014 her thoughts on superhero movies and her potential place in them, saying, "The problem is, if I do a superhero movie, I don’t want to be the girlfriend. I don’t want to be the daughter. I want to wear a f*cking cool costume with a scar on my face, with fight scenes. That’s what I’d love."
6When She Had Great Advice For An Aspiring Female Actor
When a struggling actor asked Chastain for advice because the woman's friends were insisting she needed to attend parties to hit fame, the actor was keen to refute the claim, as she shared with Refinery29 in 2014. Said Chastain,
7When She Spoke Up About Mental Illness Stigma
In a deeply moving interview with Yahoo News in 2014, Chastain opened up about her personal connection to suicide due to the loss of her sister. She touched on the importance of reaching out to those who are in need of the kind words of others, and she spoke against the stigma surrounding mental health and advocated for one specific organization, To Write Love On Her Arms.
8When She Recognized The Empowerment That Can Come From Nude Scenes
Before Chastain was a huge star, she appeared in an Al Pacino-directed stage play of Oscar Wilde's Salome, portraying the titular character who uses her sexuality to get what she wants from her weak stepfather. After the experience, Chastain told The Inquirer, "I read this book called Sisters of Salome when I was working on Salome. It talked about the power of nudity. You’re not victimizing yourself, but you can actually use nudity as a weapon. There was a whole different take about it. That book really opened my mind to nudity.” Chastain's ability to see the empowerment involved with nudity is commendable.
9When She Made A Great Point About Equality Behind-The-Scenes
Chastain penned an editorial for a 2015 edition of The Hollywood Reporter in which she gave Hollywood a much-needed reaming for the severe lack of diversity, saying, "For me, sex really isn't the qualifier in the way someone directs — but I just know that when you have a set with predominantly one gender, whether it be all men or all women, it's not going to be a healthy place. I imagine it's the same thing in the workforce or other environments: When you have both genders represented, then you have a healthier point of view."
10When She Tried To Work With A Female Director Every Year
In her THR editorial, Chastain not only made the point that diversity was more needed but also asserted her own desire to try to be that change. She said, "I’m looking to work with a female filmmaker every year. That’s my goal." And with good reason because as she put it, "they’re not given the same opportunities so if I have any influence in choosing a film or a script or finding a director I’m absolutely going to make a difference." Since 2008, she has worked with five female directors, including Kathryn Bigelow, Ami Canaan Mann, Liv Ullman, Niki Caro, and Susanna White.
11When She Totally Understand Her Worth
Chastain told The Guardian that she didn't mess around with equal pay in her 2016 interview, saying, "I think people know, if they’re going to hire me I’m not going to just be grateful. There have been situations where I have lost movies because I’ve said, this is not a fair deal, and I’ve walked away." Chastain is a talented actor and doesn't deserve less than anyone else.
12When She Participated In The Got Your Six Campaign
In 2013, Chastain joined other celebrities in support of Got Your 6, a non-profit that works to normalize depictions of veterans on film and television to end negatives myths about former soldiers.
13When She Supported All Her Fellow Female Actors
In 2013, Chastain shared on her Facebook page her absolute joy when another female actor has success. Though she may have been competing with other talented women for an Oscar, she was still proud of the other actors' accomplishments, because good for one woman in the industry can be good for all.
Snaps to Chastain for always stating her mind and being such an inspiring, feminist figure.