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Emma Watson Interviewed Geena Davis On Ending Gender Inequality and It Got Serious

By Jillian Kramer

When two outspoken advocates for gender equality sit down for an in-depth chat, you know it's going to be good — and good barely scratches the surface of Emma Watson and MAKER Geena Davis' frank conversation transcribed in Interview magazine.

According to the magazine, Watson — a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador and advocate for its HeForShe gender equality program — couldn't wait to call up Davis, who founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and the women-and-minority focused Bentonville Film Festival. But it was Davis—who starred in the 1991 feminist classic "Thelma and Louise" — who began the interview by telling Watson, "I can't believe we're talking."

And then, the duo launched into an epic, comprehensive discussion about what compelled them to care about gender equality, where it stands now, and how far we've yet to go.

For Davis, it wasn't until her daughter was born that she began to notice the absence of multiple strong, female characters in children's television and movies. "I couldn't believe what I was seeing," Davis told Watson, "that there seemed to be far more male characters than female characters in what we make for little kids. It was just a shock."

Her discovery led Davis to start a foundation to study the wide gender gap in Hollywood and beyond. "We sponsored the largest amount of research ever done on gender depictions in TV and movies," Davis told Watson, adding that her institute regularly presents its findings to studios, guilds, networks, and production companies.

And that research is important, Watson says, "because you become so used to seeing the world one way that you don't even notice anymore. It has this invisibility." Just let that sink in. Both women agree that Hollywood can become the face of change. "I realized that in all the sectors of society where there's a huge gender disparity, the one place that can be fixed overnight is onscreen," Davis says. "You think about getting half of Congress, or the presidency — it's going to take a while no matter how hard we work on it. But half of the board members and half of the CEOs can be women in the next movie somebody makes; it can be absolutely half. The whole point of why I'm doing this is to show all kids, boys and girls, that women take up half the space and do half of the interesting things in the world and have half of the dreams and ambitions. … So if we show fictional characters doing cool stuff, then girls will want to be it in real life."

Watson could have benefited from such a fictional representation as even a young girl, she admits. "Hindsight is obviously a very great thing, but I'm always convinced that the reason that I didn't take as many politics or history classes is because I just didn't see any women," she says. "I didn't think when I was 13, 14 that that had anything to do with me. I just didn't see women in my textbooks. I didn't see many female politicians on TV. I didn't see women in history textbooks, so I did geography, and art, and English literature. But I know I must have been affected by not seeing women represented."

You can (and totally should) read the full interview transcript here.

Get to know Davis by watching her exclusive MAKERS story in the video player above.

More From Glamour:

The #HeforShe Feminist Reading List
• Hollywood's Diversity Problem Is Worse Than We Thought
• Beyoncé Speaks Out About Police Brutality and Feminism
• How to Join Emma Watson's Feminist Book Club

Photo Credit: Getty Images