Geena Davis says gender imbalance an 'embarrassment'

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PARIS, Sept 11 (Reuters) - The under-representation of women in behind the camera is an "embarrassment", American actor and activist Geena Davis said at France's Deauville Film Festival.

Davis, who starred in the cult classic "Thelma and Louise" with Susan Sarandon, criticised the gender gap from the red carpet of the festival, where she was promoting her new documentary "This Changes Everything" on gender inequality.

"I think I heard today that in France it's 24% are female directors, and in the United States only 4%. I mean, 24 is not good enough either, but 4% is an embarrassment," she told reporters on Tuesday.

The documentary, produced by Davis and directed by Tom Donahue, features interviews with actors including Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Chastain and Tiffany Haddish, and examines gender discrimination in the media and entertainment industry.

The festival for American cinema in France's western seaside town paid tribute to the 63-year-old's acting career, which was launched by the 1982 film "Tootsie." Six years later, she won an Academy Award for her role in "The Accidental Tourist."

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Davis said the #MeToo movement, which has helped women speak out about sexual violence and revealed the prevalence of sexual harassment and attacks against women around the world, has made an impact in .

She said that earlier in her career female actors were discouraged from speaking out by being told there would always be someone else willing to take their roles.

Davis, who also founded the nonprofit research group the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, recently revealed that she was once forced to sit on a director's lap for a romantic scene during an audition. (Reporting by Kathryn Carlson in Paris Editing by Leigh Thomas and Matthew Lewis)

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