“Women in Hollywood” panelists discuss lack of good film roles for women

More magazine recently had a "Women in Hollywood" panel, which Women & Hollywood blogger Melissa Silverstein attended and wrote about.

Silverstein summarized the event as a panel less about the lack of women’s roles on the big screen and what that means for our culture, and more about how so many women work in TV and theater because there are no good movie roles for older women, and women in general.

None of this is really surprising, but there were some interesting comments made by the panelists.

(L to R) Cybill Shepherd, S. Epatha Merkerson, and Kate Mulgrew

Cybill Shepherd, who got her start in The Last Picture Show in 1971 and was recently on The L Word:

I’ve been fortunate, I started in the business at the top and look like I’ve worked my way down.

S. Epatha Merkerson, who has played Lt. Anita Van Buren on Law and Order since 1991, and starred in the award-winning 2005 movie Lackawanna Blues:

I am the longest running African American on TV. Why is that? …Three years after Lackawanna Blues racked up all the awards and I went to someone with a project, they said not too many people want to hear a story about an older black woman.

Kate Mulgrew on her role on Star Trek: Voyager as Captain Janeway:

I didn’t want [my character] to look like someone they wanted to have sex with. I argued the fact that I didn’t want her to have any sex as the first female captain because I was not going to run the risk of walking down the path that leading ladies have taken before — to become a sexual object. I said I’m not going to do that because if I can’t win them with my command, then I’m not the actress I think I am. But they allowed it. But the first question I am asked at every event is why didn’t you have a love affair with Chakotay.

Nevermind Chakotay — why aren’t more people asking her about why she didn’t have a love affair with Seven of Nine?

Read more about the panel — and about other Hollywood news from a feminist perspective — on Women & Hollywood.

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