Geena Davis is the perfect example of a driven, hard-working woman who is not afraid to follow her dreams, even when pursuing them later in life than expected. She discovered her love for archery at the age of forty-one and surprised herself at how committed she became to the sport. Geena practiced daily and remarkably earned a spot in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. At one point in her archery career, she was named the thirteenth best archer in the United States. More than the ranking however, she appreciates the personal growth the sport incited. “You get to know yourself, how calm you can be, how long you can focus. You have to be very self-motivated. You have to have faith in yourself and believe in your abilities. It was an area I had never delved into.”
Geena became interested in archery after watching the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. She was impressed by Justin Huish, a 21 year Olympic Champion who won two gold medals. She got the chance to meet him and he set her up with his private coach so she could work on her skills. The rest is history.
Long before her incredible athletic career, of course, Geena Davis was a household name in acting. She played twovery influential characters that spread an important message about women’s empowerment. In A League of Their Own, her character inspired women to get out of their comfort zone, embrace both their masculinity and femininity, and try something they have never done before.
In Thelma and Louise, she showed a generation of women that it is indeed an option to pursue happiness, to push their boundaries and to seek comfort in the company of other women.
Although her movies moved the needle for shifting gender perceptions, it was her work through her eponymous Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media (GDIGM) that has had the biggest impact. The institute was created to educate people on the importance of gender balanced on-screen portrayals and eliminating the stereotypes women receive on a day to day basis.
GDIGM is having a major impact on the industry with 68% of entertainment industry executives familiar with the research changing two or more projects and 41% changing four or more. Not only did they increase the number of female characters, they impacted their dialogue, their aspirations and occupations and their story development.
To us, Geena truly embodies the notion “If you can see her, you can be her.”
Photo Credit: Unsplash, Twitter, Google Reuse