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Kirsten Dunst’s Plan For Getting More Women in Hollywood Has a Lot of Applications

Kirsten Dunst has fashioned a long, well-regarded career for herself the old-fashioned way: by being careful with her projects and doing a really good job in the ones she picks. While she became a star with splashy pictures like Bring It OnLittle Women and the original Spider-Man trilogy, her career as an adult has been marked by serious fare like The Power of the Dog, Melancholia and FX’s Fargo, where she gets to showcase her range as an actor. She also, and this is no mean feat, worked with a disproportionate number of woman directors.

In a recently unearthed clip from a Hollywood Reporter roundtable with her colleagues, she explains how it happened. Her colleagues like Jennifer Lopez, Sarah Paulsen, Kerry Washington, Regina King and more bemoan the lack of women directors in Hollywood — which is certainly fair, women made up just 12 percent of the top 100 highest-grossing movies in 2021. And then Dunst speaks up with her perspective. It’s worth hearing.

“I’ve worked with so many female directors,” says Dunst. “I really love women. I have really strong female relationships. Little Women was a female director. Sophia Coppola, obviously. I’m going to work with her again this year. And, like, my girlfriends who did their first movie. I’ve done Leslye Hedlund. I’ve worked with so many female directors.”

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“And I think it’s up to us as actresses,” she continues. “To give the opportunity to first time directors. I mean, most of those people, it was their first time. I think that’s why — sometimes, I’m like, I just want to work with women! I’m done! I don’t want to work with all these dudes all the time! And then you just gotta find it and create it for yourself.”

This is obviously about Hollywood, but it’s applicable to a lot more than just Hollywood. In any institution where there are people who have been historically sidelines from the decision seat, as women in the film industry have, it’s not enough to just wish there were more opportunities for them. It takes people, like Dunst, taking a risk on young, untested talent and giving them an opportunity.

Many places — let’s just take churches for an example — say they are willing to give more opportunities to marginalized groups, like women and people of color. But then they balk because they say they have a hard time finding anyone with experience, and so the cycle perpetuates itself for another generation. But Dunst says, it is up to us to give these opportunities and take these chances. The better world we want will not come without a little risk. But that risk is pretty low compared to the risk we take of not changing anything at all.

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