"A guy has one hit and it's like, 'Oh, he deserves an Oscar!'"
It seems that Hollywood and the venture capital world have something in common—and it’s nothing good.
Speaking on Vanity Fair’s Founders Fair on Thursday, actress and producer Reese Witherspoon and Forerunner Ventures’ founder Kirsten Green, an investor in Witherspoon’s lifestyle brand Draper James, weighed in on the status of women in their respective industries.
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Witherspoon, who launched her production company Pacific Standard in 2012, said she still sees a clear divide in the way Hollywood treats women. Despite producing hit films Wild and Gone Girl, it wasn’t until she had her latest success—TV show Big Little Lies—that she started developing real clout within the industry. “I feel like the story has changed: I am a producer,” she said. “Before it was like, ‘She’s trying. That’s cute.'”
Women still have to prove themselves “twice as hard,” a process that can take “twice as long,” said Witherspoon. “A guy has one hit and it’s like, ‘Oh, he deserves an Oscar!'”
“A guy has a hit at Sundance and he gets Jurassic Park,” she added. “A woman has a hit at Sundance and she has to make six more movies.”
Green—who was named to Time‘s Most Influential People list this week—sounded a more hopeful note about women in the venture capital industry. She told the audience that talk about increasing diversity is slowly turning into action, though “it could happen faster.”
Green also noted that being a woman has sometimes worked to her advantage. She is known for her expertise in retail, an area where people look to her for “telling stories and connecting with the customer,” which are stereotypically female skills. “It might be harder to be an investor in something that might be more classically male oriented,” she said. “I don’t even want to say what that might be because I want that whole idea to go away.”