Scroll To Top
Arts & Entertainment

Cate Blanchett on bringing in more women, trans, and nonbinary filmmakers

Cate Blanchett on bringing in more women, trans, and nonbinary filmmakers

Cate Blanchett
Shutterstock

She's doing her bit for inclusion, but she wonders why it's only women who are asked to do this.

trudestress

Cate Blanchett is out to increase the representation of women as well as transgender and nonbinary people in filmmaking — but she wonders why it’s only women who are asked to help with this.

“There seems to be in the media, in particular, a sense of ‘Haven’t we discussed that?’” Blanchett said during a Monday panel discussion at the Cannes Film Festival, Varietyreports. “And it’s like, I feel the same way. Like the amount of times that women are in press conferences, say at a festival like this, and they get asked about women’s representation in films. And there are two men sitting on this panel, I would love for you to ask them that question.”

“Is it my problem?” she continued. “It’s my reality. But why are you asking me to solve it?”

Blanchett, nonetheless, is doing her bit to solve it. Last year she cofounded Proof of Concept through the University of Southern California to promote women, trans, and nonbinary filmmakers by funding their short films. Proof of Concept will announce its first group of chosen filmmakers this week — 11 winners out of 1,200 applicants.

Blanchett noted that whenever she comes to a new movie set, “it’s like Groundhog Day. I do the head count, and I’m back in the same place, working with men who I love working with and respect, [but] I’m walking on set and there’s 50 people on set and there’s three women. When is this going to deeply, profoundly shift?”

It’s not only a question of fairness but also of getting different perspectives on-screen, Blanchett said. “Their point of view, in whatever story, in whatever genre they tell it, will be different from somebody who has grown up [as a] white middle-class male,” she said. In addition, male directors and actors get praise for taking risks with their projects, even if they don’t succeed, while women don’t — and get fewer chances to try again, she said.

“There’s a gendered marketplace for historically marginalized individuals when they try to move from one to multiple features,” added panel member Stacy Smith, founder of USC's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. “And for women, trans and nonbinary folks, it’s a one and done. They get one at bat.”

Between 2007 and 2023, only 6 percent of the directors of the 1,700 top-grossing movies were women, and just two were transgender, according to a report by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. “Less than one-third of all speaking characters in those same films were girls, women, trans or nonbinary people,” Variety notes. Last year, only 30 of the 100 top-grossing films had women as lead or co-lead characters.

Women and other marginalized people should have a chance to direct big-budget films as well as art-house fare, Coco Francini, Blanchett’s partner in her Dirty Films production company, said on the panel. One of the ideas behind Proof of Concept, Francini said, is that “it allows people to say I can do this. I don’t have to do a movie that’s a small independent film.”

Smith predicted that the first Proof of Concept class would have a large impact. “It’s 11 people,” she said. “[If] each of those filmmakers turn this into a feature. And let’s say they work with 100. And then those 100 people go on and work on another project that they’ve never worked in that capacity [before]. In a very short amount of time, you’re amortizing an entire groundswell of people that would never have had the opportunity and it started with 11. Exponentially, that’s how you create change.”

trudestress
Advocate Channel - HuluOut / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.