Closing The Gap

Geena Davis wins honorary Oscar for fighting onscreen gender bias

Geena Davis arrives at the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences' 11th Annual Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on October 27, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
Steve Granitz | WireImage | Getty Images

U.S. actress Geena Davis was awarded an honorary Oscar at the 2019 Governors Awards on Sunday for her efforts to promote a more balanced representation of women onscreen.

Davis was handed the famous statuette, representing the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, for her work as founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media which she established in 2004.

Previous winners of the award include Audrey Hepburn, Oprah Winfrey, Elizabeth Taylor and Angelina Jolie.

In her acceptance speech, Davis repeated a call for gender equality in film and television, saying it was a problem that "can be fixed absolutely overnight," according to a Reuters report.

"However abysmal the numbers are in real life, it's far worse in fiction – where you make it up," she said. "We make it worse."

The actress said writers could start to solve this problem by crossing out a number of the male first names on scripts and replace them with female characters.

"With one stroke, you have created some non-stereotyped characters that might turn out to be even more interesting now that they have a gender swap," she added.

Davis recently appeared in six episodes of GLOW, a hit Netflix series about a group of all-female wrestlers. The comedy heavily referenced the lack of equal rights that woman can face in the work place.

Davis won an Oscar in 1989 for her supporting role in "The Accidental Tourist" but is perhaps best known for playing one of the titular characters in the 1991 film "Thelma & Louise".

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media aims to target children ages 11 and under with its work. According to the institute's website, it has influenced gender portrayal in family films such as "Inside Out" and "Monsters University".

The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award is given to an "individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry" and was named after the Danish actor.