She shares how she wanted to empower herself and understand herself better before having kids.
We all may know Geena Davis from Beetlejuice or Thelma and Louise but she is also a mother of two children, Alizeh, 20, and 18-year-old twin sons Kaiis, and Kianwith — with former partner Reza Jarrahy. This week, when the actor appeared on the UK show Loose Women, she shared why having kids later was one of the best decisions she had made. With her love for activism and diverse perspectives in media, she inculcated some of those lessons even in her personal life, reported ITV.
She said in the interview, "I'm really grateful that I had children in my 40s because I knew I'd be more involved." Adding, "I wanted to wait, [and] was hoping that I could still have kids. But I thought, 'I'll be more evolved the longer I wait.' I didn't have a lot of self-esteem but I was really determined that my children would have self-esteem." She explains how she was a quiet and people-pleasing child when she was younger and that came from the way her parents 'modeled their behavior.' Their learned behavior of politeness was also passed down to her. She wanted her children to see a better model than she did.
Davis has also noted how having kids at 48 was important to her, she told The Guardian. "I always felt lucky that I had my kids late, because I just feel like I changed so much. I always knew I wanted kids, but what I was doing waiting that long, I don’t know. I never tried before, in other words. But it’s been great. And twins are fun!" she says. She also talked about how having kids and watching their shows made her consider the way gender is portrayed in media. "I had this realization that this problem we’re all trying to fix, gender inequality, well, a good way would be to stop teaching two-year-olds to have a gender bias," she says. While speaking to filmmakers about this, she gets the iconic, "Well, there is this film..." response. However, she concedes that it is better to deal with filmmakers who make art for children than with the mainstream industry.
"We’ve done the most research ever done on gender depictions in kids’ TV and kids' movies covering over a 25-year span,” Davis explains to PEOPLE, “The most interesting thing I discovered was that children’s onscreen representations are absolutely the lowest-hanging fruit when you’re talking about gender inequality. It’s the easiest thing to fix, because [the creators] had no idea they were doing it." And once she notified filmmakers about this, they admitted, horrified that they had never thought of it like that.
Her deep dive into the industry and research guided her toward creating the Geena Davis Institute on Gender In Media in 2004, which is a US non-profit research organization that researches gender representation in media and advocates for equal representation of women. As a collaboration, she also hosts the Bentonville Film Festival which is also a non-profit. At her film festival, more than 80% of the films were directed by women, 65% by people of color, and 40% by LGBTQ people. In Sep. 2022, Davis was honored at the Emmy Awards with the Governor's Award for the institute "in recognition of their efforts to promote gender balance and foster inclusion throughout the entertainment industry."
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Justin Ford