Institute Speaker/Panelist Bio

Geena Davis

Founder and Chair

Academy Award winner Geena Davis, one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, is recognized for her tireless advocacy of gender equality in media nearly as much as for her acting accomplishments. She is the Founder and Chair of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which is successfully influencing film and television content creators to dramatically increase the percentages of female characters — and reduce gender stereotyping — in media targeting children 11 and under.

In 2015, Davis launched the Bentonville Film Festival (BFF), an unprecedented initiative in support of women and diversity in the entertainment industry and serves as it’s Co-Founder and Chair. BFF provides a platform to significantly boost the commercial value of content produced and starring minorities and women. This initiative is the only film festival to provide guaranteed theatrical, television, digital and home entertainment distribution for the winners.

In 2012, Davis was appointed Special Envoy for Women and Girls in ICT for the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU).  She is an official partner of UN Women, working toward their goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women worldwide. Davis is also the Chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women.

As an actor, Davis has appeared in several roles that have become cultural landmarks. Earning the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series Drama, Davis broke ground in her portrayal of the first female President of the United States in ABC’s hit show “Commander in Chief.”

In 1989, Davis received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Lawrence Kasdan’s The Accidental Tourist. She was again nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for her performance as Thelma in Ridley Scott’s Thelma and Louise. Davis went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for her work in A League of Their Own. Other credits include iconic films such as Tootsie, The Fly, Beetlejuice, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and Stuart Little.

Few have achieved such remarkable success in as many different fields as Davis has: she is not only an award winning actor, but a world-class athlete (at one time the nation’s 13th-ranked archer, and a semi-finalist in the Olympic Trials), and a member of the genius society Mensa. Davis holds honorary degrees from Boston University, Bates College and New England College.

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