Film, Role Model

ROLE MODEL #2 – GEENA DAVIS

Every Friday A Peerie Yarn will look at a different female role model. They may be a role model for any reason at all, from a music legend to a fantastic author, and the piece will explore what it is that makes them someone to look up to. 

Background & Personal Life:

Geena-Davis-Hairstyles-1

source: SloDive

Geena Davis was born in Massachussets in 1956. She gained a Bachelor’s Degree in drama from Boston University in 1979 and began working in acting from the 1980’s.

Davis is a member of Mensa, a group for people in the highest 2% of intelligence based on IQ scores. She has been married four times, to Richard Emmolo (1982-83), Jeff Goldblum (1987-1990), Renny Harlan (1993-98) and to Reza Jarrahy since 2001.

She has three kids with Jarrahy, a daughter, born in 2002, and twin sons, born in 2004. In 2009 she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Bates College.

“I haven’t even gone to any Mensa meetings.” 

Acting:

 

thelmaandlouise_pub_627

source: SBS

Davis refers to herself as an actor, believing that the word “actress” will soon be dated in the same way as “doctress” is today. This pursuit of equality is also reflected in her choice of roles, with Davis becoming known for carefully choosing her roles.

She bagged herself a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1988 for The Accidental Tourist, as well as gaining another nomination in 1991 for Best Actress in Ridley Scott’s Thelma and Louise. The former is Davis’ staple work – a roadtrip/buddy movie that subverted pretty much every trope from the respective genres and created something that screamed girl power.

Other roles included the baseball film A League of Their Own (1992)  and pirate caper Cutthroat Island (1995), proof that Davis refuses to be put into the typical boxes so many females working in the movie industry are.

She played a female President of the USA in ABC’s Commander in Chief, which ran for one season over 2005-2006.

Whilst her acting work has taken a backseat as she has raised a family and become more involved in activism, she is due to star in the film adaption of Marjorie Prime alongside Jon Hamm.

“If you read someday that I have signed up to play Sean Connery’s kidnapped wife, then you’ll know I’m broke.”

Archery:

Davis became interested in archery in the 1990’s and in 1999 was one of 300 women who went for semi-finals berth in the US Olympics Archery Team to participate in the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics.

She placed 24th out of 300 and whilst she did not qualify she participated as a wild card entry in the Sydney International Golden Arrow Competition.

“Archery is something that I took up later and didn’t know I had a natural aptitude for.” 

Activism & Research:

geena-davis.jpg

source: Indiewire

Davis has become hugely prolific in her activism and research since the early 2000’s. She fronts the Women’s Sports Foundation and launched a campaign called “Geena Takes Aim” which advocated gender equality in sports opportunities.

She became even more interested in gender equality when watching children’s programming with her kids. She noticed the extreme gender imbalance and the worryingly sexualised nature of female characters appearances.

It was because of this that she paired with Dads and Daughters in 2005 to push for a balancing of the numbers of male and female characters in children’s TV and film. In 2007 she launched the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which launched the biggest research project on gender in the media to date.

The Institute published its findings, such as the fact that the ratio of male to female characters in Hollywood is 3:1, and Davis continues to speak at events all over the world to promote equality.

In 2015 she launched the Bentonville Film Festival, an event which was focused on promoting diversity in film.

“Six year old girls have already learned to see themselves through the male gaze.” 

Role Model:

Geena Davis is a massive role model for women – not only did she dedicate her career to making careful choices which allowed her to play a variety of progressive and strong roles, but she then went on to become part of the solution by spearheading the most expansive research into gender representations in media.

Davis has spent her entire career proving that no women – or person – should be put in a box. We can all be a whole range of different things, just as Davis is a wife, mother, actor, activist and archer, and her long and varied career is a testament to that.

“There are woefully few women CEOs in the world, but there can be lots of them in films. We haven’t had a woman president yet, but we have on TV. How can we fix the problem of corporate boards being so unequal without quotas? Well, they can be half women instantly, onscreen. How do we encourage a lot more girls to pursue science, technology and engineering careers? By casting droves of women in STEM jobs today in movies and on TV. Hey, it would take me many years to become a real nuclear physicist, but I can play one tomorrow.”

What do you think of Geena Davis? Share your thoughts in the comments section! 

Advertisements
Standard
Music, Role Model

ROLE MODEL #1 – PATTI SMITH:

Every Friday A Peerie Yarn will look at a different female role model. They may be a role model for any reason at all, from a music legend to a fantastic author, and the piece will explore what it is that makes them someone to look up to. 

Background & Music:

Patti-Smith-Horses-cover

source: Villaminin

Patti Smith is an artist who defies convention. A punk-rock singer, a poet, an artist, a writer, a mother, a wife – Smith, like any woman, cannot be neatly placed into a box.

Born in Chicago in 1946, Smith first rose to prominence as part of the New York City punk rock movement in the 1970’s, with her debut Horses becoming one of the most important to emerge from the period.

Infusing rock’n’roll with poetry-infused lyrics, the freestyle Beat influence was clear in her early work. As detailed in her memoir, Just Kids, Smith’s foray into music was almost accidental. 

Moving to New York in the late 1960’s, Smith met photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and embarked on the period of her life that she would go on to document in Just Kids.

Lovers and best friends, the pair lived in a creative bubble which saw them associate with some of the greats of the time, from Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin to Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg.

Smith has been continually active as a musician since Horses, with a total of 11 studio albums to date. The most recent, 2012’s Banga, was met with critical acclaim. She was inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

In 2011 Smith was awarded the prestigious Polar Music Prize:

“By devoting her life to art in all its forms, Patti Smith has demonstrated how much rock’n’roll there is in poetry and how much poetry there is in rock’n’roll.”

– Polar Music Prize

Poetry & Writing:

Whilst best known for her musical endeavors, Smith actually started out as a poet/artist and has published numerous poetry collections since the 1970’s.

She was a part of the St Mark’s Poetry Project in New York whilst living with Mapplethorpe and has continued to write poems ever since.

Smith has also forayed into writing books, releasing Just Kids in 2010. The book is a memoir which tells the story of her relationship and friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe, and she wrote it to fulfill a promise to him that she would document their endeavors.

Just Kids was a huge success and Smith released a second memoir, M Train, in 2015, focusing on her late husband Fred “Sonic” Smith.

“”What will happen to us?” I asked. “There will always be us” He answered.

– Just Kids (2010)

Art:

Smith has been active in the creation of art her entire life. Her work, from paintings to photographs to installations, has been featured in various locations including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Pompidou Center in Paris.

She has been represented by the Robert Miller Gallery since 1978. In 2002 a 300-work retrospective, Strange Messenger: The Work of Patti Smith, was held at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. The exhibition was then released as a book the following year.

In 2005 Smith was awarded the Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, an esteemed French honour.

“It’s the artist’s responsibility to balance mystical communication and the labour of creation.” 

– Just Kids (2010)

Fashion:

Another term often associated with Smith is ‘style icon’. Her androgynous look, which she has channeled throughout her career, was well ahead of it’s time in 1970’s New York.

Smith went against the grain from the beginning – little make-up, tousled hair and crisp white shirts were not what women were wearing. She put together outfits that, whether intentional or not, became an extension of her art.

Even now, in her late 60’s, Smith refuses to adhere to traditional expectations. With her long grey hair and bohemian style she proves that through it all she has always remained steadfastly true to herself.

“My Keith Richards haircut was a real discourse magnet. I miraculously turned androgynous overnight.”

– Just Kids (2010)

Activism:

Smith has been involved in activism for much of her adult life, particularly in AIDS research following the death of Robert Mapplethorpe from the disease.

She contributed to AIDS benefit album No Alternative, produced by the Red Hot Organisation.

She has also released protest songs and sung at various rallies and events for a variety of causes, such as protesting against the Iraq War and calling from impeachment of George W Bush.

Smith has been affiliated with the Green Party and supported Democratic candidates in some elections.

“The power to dream, to rule, to wrestle the world from fools, it’s decreed the people rule.”

– People Have the Power (1988)

Family:

fcb094ecf79faaea8091117ea36e4d16

source: Pinterest

As well as a long and varied career, Smith has also raised a family. In 1980 she married Fred “Sonic” Smith, a guitarist for MC5. They had two children – Jackson, born 1982, and Jesse, born 1987.

Throughout the 1980’s Smith lived in Michigan with her family and was in a state of semi-retirement from music. Frank died in 1994 at the age of 45.

This, along with the sudden death of her brother Todd, led Smith to return to NYC in the 1990’s.

Role Model:

6989614-3x2-940x627

source: ABC

Patti Smith is a true female role model – a living embodiment of the fact that a woman can do anything and everything she wishes to. Her entire life has been dedicated to artistic pursuit and raising a family.

From her bold fashion statements to her music, Smith has the attitude of a true punk – she doesn’t care what people about her, and she is just happy to be pursuing her craft.

She has survived through a time where a lot of her creative counterparts saw their lives cut short by addiction or tragedy. She has endured these losses alongside the loss of her husband, her best friend and family members, and still she continues to work.

Patti Smith is a woman who, in many ways, was ahead of her time, and she has been a trailblazer in the creative world. A true inspiration, it is little wonder that thousands of people around the world look up to her.

“All I ever wanted, since I was a child, was to do something wonderful.”

– Patti Smith

What do you think of Patti Smith? Who is your female role model? Share your thoughts in the comments section! 

Standard