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Sherry Lansing: US will have a female president soon

Sherry Lansing, the first woman to head a Hollywood studio when she became president of 20th Century Fox in 1980, has told CNBC she is convinced that there will be a female U.S. president in her lifetime.

Talking to Tania Bryer for a CNBC Meets program on her achievements and philanthropic efforts, Lansing, 68, said, "I know there will be a woman president in my lifetime. I'm just convinced of that. It's just going to happen."

The former president of 20th Century Fox and CEO of Paramount Pictures, who brought hits such as "Fatal Attraction," "Forrest Gump", "Braveheart" and "Titantic" to the big screen, was a firm supporter of Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential bid, when the New York senator narrowly lost out to Barack Obama for the Democratic Party nomination.

Lansing is a longtime Democratic Party activist.

She admits that her belief in female advancement has significantly shifted since her early days in the film industry.

"I'm the person that in Life magazine when we were a young executive, actually did say—and I'm embarrassed—there will never be a woman studio head in my lifetime. I actually said that," Lansing said.

"I'm not proud of it, and I remember some of my female executives saying, 'How could you say that?' And I said, 'But it's true.' "

After Lansing's comments to Life, she went on to become president of 20th Century Fox in 1980 at the age of 35, followed by a 13-year stint as CEO of Paramount Pictures between 1992 and 2005.

Her own remarkable progression through Hollywood itself paved the way for other prominent women: Dawn Steel became president of Columbia Pictures in 1987 having been vice president of production at Paramount for a number of years.

Other female Hollywood heads who remain active today include Amy Pascal, the co-chairman of Sony Picture Entertainment, and Stacey Snider, former chairman of Universal Studios and now CEO at Dreamworks.

Clinton's supporters are urging her to run for president in 2016.
Getty Images
Clinton's supporters are urging her to run for president in 2016.

Lansing's belief the U.S. will soon witness a female president may be seen as a subtle hint that Clinton should once more run for president it the next election.

A growing chorus of Democrats are urging the former secretary of state to throw her hat into the ring. Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden are seen by many commentators as the most likely Democratic contenders for 2016.

However, Clinton has neither said she will nor won't run.

Talking to The New York Times in November, Clinton said, "Oh, I've ruled it out, but you know me. Everybody keeps asking me. So I keep ruling it out and being asked." But, she added, "I have no idea what I'm going to do next."

Perhaps Lansing's prediction will help Clinton make her mind up.

CNBC Meets: Sherry Lansing will air on Wednesday 17 July .

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