Woman returns to acting after 22 years, finds an industry going backwards

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
Monday 14 September 2015 10:50
Celebrities

A leading lady?

Certainly, and one who wants more ladies to be given leads. Oscar winner Glenda Jackson has returned to acting after 23 years and is appalled by the lack of progress on equality in the industry since she entered Parliament. She is shocked by the dearth of roles created for older women in dramas, particularly as a large portion of the audiences tend to be… older women.

Wait a minute, isn't she an MP?

Not any more. Jackson stood down as Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn five months ago, but she enjoyed the odd ovation before leaving politics. Remember the clip of her in the Commons telling Iain Duncan Smith he was responsible for the "destruction of the welfare state and the total and utter incompetence of his department" that whizzed round the internet last year? A fine performance which eviscerated the Work and Pensions Secretary.

So she's saying that nothing has changed?

Quite. "What I'm seeing now is that actresses are complaining," she told The Observer. "We were complaining in exactly the same way 23 years ago, and even years before that. Where have the remarkable new plays which have women as the driving engine as opposed to the adjunct for what is always, and inevitably, a male engine-driver?"

Can we blame Shakespeare?

Shakespeare can certainly take some of the rap, as Jackson says his plays provide "every single development stage" for talented male actors, with roles from Hamlet to Lear. Though the Bard was talented, he afforded "no equivalent for women".

Is there any exception to prove the rule?

Spanish director and writer Pedro Almodóvar, who is "obsessed" with women and whose films are "marvellous," Jackson says.

More: George Clooney thinks he has a solution to Hollywood's sexism problem

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