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How Brie Larson (and Captain Marvel) Will Save the World

Jadzia Samuel Thursday 21 February 2019

Brie Larson flew to stardom in the 2016 Academy Awards when she received the Oscar for Best Actress thanks to her role in 'Room' and since then her kingdom in Hollywood has only grown. Not only is Larson known for her acting, she also began a career in directing last year, has become a prominent Times Up activist, and was one of the many new faces added to the Academy Awards voting body in an attempt to make the Oscars more inclusive for minority groups in films. For years she has been using her platform to become an advocate for those who do not have the same opportunity and her latest role in the superhero blockbuster 'Captain Marvel' is only the icing on the cake.

Brie Larson Captain Marvel

As an advocate for the diversification of voices in Hollywood, Larson has often spoken the underrepresentation of women in almost every aspect of the film industry, from production and onscreen roles to voices in press junkets. Although last year there was a rise in the percentage of female protagonists in film, only 35% of on screen speaking roles were women, and only 4% of the top grossing films in the past decade have been directed by women. As a high-budget blockbuster film in the colossal empire that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, 'Captain Marvel' is a significant milestone in the fight to combat this glass ceiling; the powerful and eponymous hero played by Brie Larson is Marvel's first ever female superhero starring in a solo film, providing young people with more diverse and positive role models. In addition, Anna Boden was co-director alongside Ryan Fleck, contributing to the increase in female directors in Hollywood.

As well as simply starring in the latest blockbuster film to brandish the feminist flag in Hollywood, Larson herself is also fighting for those in less prominent positions within the film industry. In a recent interview with Marie Claire, she commented on the lack of female journalists she encounters in press conferences: "I started paying attention to what my press days looked like and the critics reviewing movies, and noticed it appeared to be overwhelmingly white male. So, I spoke to Dr Stacy Smith at the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, who put together a study to confirm that."

USC Annenberg Inclusion Study

As the study shows, almost 80% of film reviews were written by men and the vast majority of them were white. Only around a fifth of reviews were written by women with women of colour accounting for a shocking 3.7%. Diversity (in all contexts) is not only important for the people whose voices are being overlooked, but for the audience and consumers as well; in this context of press junkets, a lack of representation means we hear only very limited perspectives on pop culture, whereas diverse voices give room for a range of interpretations, varied interview questions, and a more engaging experience for everyone involved. It was in light of this study that Larson made the decision, "moving forward [...] to make sure my press days were more inclusive."

Brie Larson: The Real-Life Superhero

Although Larson has said in the past that the unavoidable spotlight that comes with success in the industry often makes her uncomfortable, she also highlighted, "any uncomfortableness I feel is balanced by the knowledge that [the platform] gives me the ability to advocate for myself and others".

Long before she stepped into the shoes of Captain Marvel, Brie Larson has been the superhero that we never knew we needed in Hollywood, using her influence to lift up those in less privileged positions. However, the role does undeniably elevate this platform even further and Larson says that she is "using the power that [she has] now as Captain Marvel" in order to try to "connect the dots" whenever she can.

Regarding the film itself, she told The Hollywood Reporter: "The very nature of this film means that I'm having conversations that I'd like to have about what it means to be a woman. What strength looks like, the complexities of the female experience, female representation. It's surprising and cool that my first giant movie I get to be having those kinds of conversations."

'Captain Marvel' is coming to cinemas on 8th March 2019.

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