Geena Davis

Lucy award honoree takes aim at more positive media images for girls

Geena Davis has always been known for her sartorial elegance on the red carpet. But it was her wit that shined at the Golden Globes in January as she accepted her award for ABC’s “Commander in Chief.”

As she entered the Beverly Hilton, she told the audience, a little girl tugged on her dress and informed Davis that her role as President Mackenzie Allen made her want to be president.

After the room issued a collective “aww,” Davis quipped: “Well, that didn’t actually happen; but it could have.”

It was one of the evening’s highlights, even if the series was struggling to stay on the air. After repeated efforts by the network to revive it, “Commander in Chief” recently ended its one-and-a-half season term after 20 episodes. But Davis’ non-fiction role in public service continues.

Her off-screen efforts through her organization, See Jane — dedicated to reducing gender stereotypes in children’s media through increasing the percentage of female roles in Hollywood — might inspire a little girl to be president someday after all, or at least to play one on TV.

“We’re showing kids from the beginning a male-skewed world in the media they consume,” says Davis, who won an Oscar for her supporting role in 1988’s “The Accidental Tourist.” “So we’re working with the industry, in a collegial way, to try to improve this. It’s important for girls to see themselves reflected in the culture. It’s just as important for boys to see that girls take up half the space, and that sharing the sandbox is a good idea.”

In this regard, Davis also founded Geena Takes Aim, an institution promoting female athletics and fair treatment in sports. “I get very involved in the things I care about. If I take something on, I have to go to the Olympics in it.”

Davis hopes to travel the globe to interview all 12 of the current female heads of state, which might provide inspiration toward her goal of someday playing Eleanor Roosevelt.

Davis views Meryl Streep, Sally Field, Glenn Close, Jessica Lange and longtime friend Susan Sarandon, with whom she became a feminist icon in “Thelma and Louise,” as role models, and would like to follow their career paths in the way she chooses her roles.

“I’m perfectly content to wait until something great comes along,” she says. “Fortunately, something did in ‘Commander in Chief,’ and I jumped at the chance. Now, I’ll just wait to see what happens next.”

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