Oprah Talks to Geena Davis
Oprah: So did you call in Commander in Chief?
Geena: Frankly, I was frustrated that there weren't more choices for me—that other people were deciding whether I would work or not. I love my family. I love spending time with my kids. But I don't want somebody else to decide that's what I have to do because there are so few good parts for women. We have incredible women actors in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, and they just fall off the face of the earth. When I was starting out during the eighties, Meryl Streep had one insanely incredible movie right after another.
Oprah: A Time magazine cover hailed her as the star of the eighties.
Geena: And Jessica Lange had all these big movies. Sally Field and Glenn Close had incredible parts. Not only didn't that happen for the next wave of actresses, but it stopped happening for those women. I'm not desperate to work. I'd much rather stay home and goof around unless there's something worth going to work for. But it's frustrating not to have the choice.
Oprah: So this is how you pulled in Commander in Chief. A role had to be worth it.
Geena: I couldn't believe something this significant would come along. How could I go from feeling rage at the system to being able to use my talent and creativity in this amazing part?
Oprah: I think you should keep thinking about that. There's obviously something deep happening with you. You have to be on a certain frequency to call this in. Perhaps it's connected with your intention of wanting to do the work.
Geena: My playing this role is perfect. I'm not saying I'm the only one who can do it; I just mean it makes sense that I would have the part.
Oprah: I so get that. On the day the show was going to premiere, I was sitting in my makeup room when I looked up at my TV to see you talking to Charlie Gibson. The TV was on mute—and I still thought, "She is perfect for the part." I also thought, "Hillary Clinton is the luckiest woman in America because this is going to change the way people feel."
Geena: During my time of frustration, I'd gotten deeply interested in the images girls see on TV because I had a little daughter. All the characters are male. There are a few great exceptions, like on Dora the Explorer and Blue's Clues. But it's usually boys who get to go on all the biggest adventures and do all the fun things.
Oprah: We've got a generation of girls trying to be like Paris Hilton. I was sitting with some kids who were at my house one day, and I thought, "If you're a girl now and these images are presented to you about how you're supposed to be, I think you'd go insane trying to live up to them."
Geena: Absolutely. Even on children's shows, the female characters are highly sexualized. Like Jasmine in Aladdin—her waist is like an inch around. My daughter kept saying, "I want a bathing suit like Jasmine." But Jasmine doesn't swim. Then I finally figured it out: Jasmine's everyday clothes are so skimpy that they look like a bikini.