Geena Davis at the Statehouse Convention Center

Because of overwhelming public interest, the Clinton Foundation moved Geena Davis’s talk on gender stereotypes in media to a ballroom at the Statehouse Convention Center. Even so, every chair was full, with the overflow standing respectfully in the back. Davis is 56. She was most visible as an actor from the ’80s to mid ’90s, so the crowd was largely middle-aged and beyond. But university students and young professionals were well represented, and several folks had teenage daughters in tow.

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media was spawned in 2004, although its roots are in the 1991 film “Thelma and Louise”. Davis played Thelma. It was arguably her most popular role ever. “I didn’t realize it would change my life. And really, the biggest standout about the film is that it had two good female parts,” Davis said.

Afterward, women stopped her everywhere — in the grocery, rolling down windows at traffic lights — to tell her how much they enjoyed the film. Critics were polarized. Some loved the film, while others dismissed it as man-hating. It won both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay. To Davis, the film’s aftermath was “a lesson on the power of media images.”

“Ever since, I’ve thought about women in the audience and what they’ll think about the parts I’ll play,” she said. “But really great parts for women are few and far between … that I’m able to be so picky means I haven’t run out of money yet. If you ever hear that I’ve signed on to play the kidnapped wife of Sean O’Connery, you’ll know I’m broke.”