One day after her comments about the lack of female leads in Steven Spielberg’s movies sparked online outrage, Elizabeth Banks has issued an apology.
The actress-director cleared the air, taking full responsibility for inaccurately stating Spielberg didn’t have a movie with a female lead and clarifying her comments, some of which had been taken out of context following her speech at the Women In Film Awards.
“I messed up,” a statement she posted to Twitter on Thursday reads. “When referring to Steven Spielberg at the Women In Film awards, I framed my comments about his films inaccurately.”
At the ceremony on Tuesday, Banks called out the “Jaws” director for the lack of female leads in his films.
“I went to ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Jaws’ and every movie Steven Spielberg ever made, and by the way, he’s never made a movie with a female lead,” she exclaimed during a passionate speech about the representation of women in film. “Sorry, Steven. I don’t mean to call your a$$ out, but it’s true.”
When an audience member, later revealed to be actress Shari Belafonte, shouted “The Color Purple” out at Banks, referencing Spielberg’s 1985 movie with Whoopi Goldberg in the lead, Banks replied, “Okay, ‘The Color Purple’, okay, I’m wrong.”
In her Twitter apology, Banks clarified her initial intentions, writing she had only been thinking of the director’s more recent films and apologizing for what was perceived as a dismissal of the 1985 racial drama. On Thursday, the hashtag #TheColorPurple was trending on Twitter as people in turn called Banks out for downplaying the significance of a critically-acclaimed major studio movie with black female leads.
“When I made the comments, I was thinking of recent films Steven directed, it was not my intention to dismiss the import[ance] of the iconic #TheColorPurple,” her post reads. “I made things worse by giving the impression that I was dismissing Shari Belafonte when she attempted to correct me. I spoke with Shari backstage and she was kind enough to forgive me.”
Banks, 43, admits that every producer and director, including herself, “should be held accountable for our mistakes, whether it’s about diversity or inaccurate statements.”
Despite Banks’ claims to the contrary, Spielberg does have movies with female leads, though with over 30 feature films to his name, they represent a fraction of his filmography. Both 1974’s “The Sugarland Express” and the recent family movie “The BFG” feature female leads.
Spielberg himself has kept mum on the drama, though a member of his team says he is working on a new movie – with a female lead.
When reached for comment, a rep for the director tells ET Canada,”Mr. Spielberg is on location shooting ‘The Papers’ starring Meryl Streep and is unavailable for comment.”
Read her full response below.