Elizabeth Banks is a pretty huge Hollywood star, but that doesn't mean she always has it easy. She was recently honored at Step Up's Inspiration Awards on Friday and spoke out about the inherent sexism she faces in Hollywood and the challenges other women face all over the world. She explained how producing Pitch Perfect and directing Pitch Perfect 2 was her attempt to fix some of the unintentional inequity that women in the entertainment industry often deal with.
According to Variety, Banks was introduced by her Pitch Perfect 2 co-stars Skylar Astin and Ester Dean, who praised her for setting an example for other female directors and working to create a franchise of films about women -- because there are so few in the business.
"Our movie [Pitch Perfect 2] grossed $69 million opening weekend and set box office records for a first-time director," said Dean. "We hope this inspires women directors and maybe some Step Up girls to follow in Elizabeth Banks' shoes."
When Elizabeth Banks took the stage, she took a moment to note that the girls of Step Up at Gertz-Ressler High School in Los Angeles "have incredible aspirations, they have ambitions, they have these beautiful dreams."
But she admitted that modern society can make it difficult for young, ambitious women to realize their dreams -- especially when so many industries try to categorize and stereotype young girls.
"I also learned a bit about the boxes and labels that they feared might threaten those dreams. They were worried that nobody expected them to be anything beyond Latina, female, high school student, mother. They obviously knew they could be much, much more. And they didn't want to be limited or defined by a few labels."
Despite her success, Elizabeth Banks admitted that Hollywood had put her in "this box that just said, 'Cute blond actress, kind of funny, small boobs.'" In order to eliminate these labels, Banks decided to start her own company, Brownstone Productions, to generate movies that produce better opportunities and positive messages for women. She produced Pitch Perfect, which was a success, and then went on to direct Pitch Perfect 2.
She also admitted that there were low expectations for Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2, especially since the sequel was Banks' first time directing a full-length feature.
"As for people's low expectations, those I like. Because those allow an opportunity to surprise people … like 'Pitch Perfect 2's' $69 million did. Thank you all for those who bought tickets!"
Banks left the girls of the Step Up program with this heartfelt advice.
"You should fight to expand not just others' ideas of what you should be, but your own. You should surprise yourself."
After the success of Pitch Perfect 2, Banks is very interested in taking on another sequel. According to Cinema Blend, Pitch Perfect 3 is planned.
[Image credit: Getty]