Actress Jodhi May calls for ‘more action’ in redressing gender inequality in the film industry: ‘Things need to change’

Speaking up: Actress Jodhi May calls for gender equality in the film industry: REX
Speaking up: Actress Jodhi May calls for gender equality in the film industry: REX

Actress Jodhi May has said that there is “a lot of talk and no action” when it comes to redressing the gender equality imbalance in the film industry.

The Game of Thrones star, 42, condemned the lack of “change”, despite the raised awareness of the issue, calling for more “female-focused stories.”

“Clearly it’s a lot of talk and not very much action,” she told the Standard.

“Obviously no one wants to be employed purely because of their gender; you want to be employed for your ability full stop.

“But there is a very conservative culture that we’re working in and it is not progressive, despite however much people may talk about awareness of the gender imbalance.”

All-female cast: Karin Bertling. Jodhi May, Juliet Stevenson, and Lucy Boynton in Let Me Go (REX)
All-female cast: Karin Bertling. Jodhi May, Juliet Stevenson, and Lucy Boynton in Let Me Go (REX)

The British actress, who appeared in The Last of the Mohicans and Defiance, admitted she had worked with just six female directors during the course of her 30-year career.

“I don’t know how many films I’ve done but I’ve worked with probably about five or six female directors in 30 years and one female DP,” she said.

“So these things really do need to change. I would say that change is not happening in the way that it should.”

May played the fortune-telling Maggy the Frog during a Game of Thrones flashback episode, in a brief but important role.

She is also still the youngest ever recipient of the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for her role in Chris Menges’s 1998 film A World Apart.

May stars in Polly Steele’s new feature film Let Me Go, about the relationships between four generations of mothers and daughters in one family.

“It’s such a privilege to work on this kind of material because it’s an important adult drama and the fact of the matter is that there are very few adult dramas being made as films,” she said.

May lamented the tendency of film studios to focus on franchise movies rather than “arthouse” films.

“Studios just aren’t making this material, they’re making franchise movies and arthouse is really squeezed, so when you do get to work on material like this, it’s an absolute joy,” she said.

The film is based on Helga Schneider's real life memoirs, about discovering that her estranged mother was a guard in a Nazi death camp.

“I thought it raised some really important questions about trans-generational trauma and how families deal with history and how the grand scale of historical events plays out through the minute eye of a family,” said May.

“Also obviously because it was four female leads, which we thought was brilliant in an original film and we don’t see many of those, needless to say.”

May is the latest in a long line of female stars to speak out about the problem of gender inequality in the film industry.

Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson and Helen Mirren have all publically called on industry bosses to close the pay-gap between the genders, while Priyanka Chopra recently said she was prepared to “dig her feet in” so that women could get meatier roles.

Earlier this week, Patty Jenkins signed a history-making deal to direct the Wonder Woman sequel for $9 million.

While this is the most money a female director has ever been paid for a film, it is less than half of the $20 million that the highest-paid male director, Christopher Nolan, reportedly made for Dunkirk.

Let Me Go is released in selected UK cinemas and digital download on 15th September by Evolutionary Films.