Jennifer Lawrence and Elizabeth Banks have both had a great year. Both of the Mockingjay: Part 2 actresses, along with The Hunger Games Producer Nina Jacobson find their places on The Hollywood Reporter‘s 2015 Women in Entertainment Power 100 list.
Banks topped off her banner year by hosting Saturday Night Live for the first time Nov. 14, opening the show by “directing” her own monologue in which she sang and danced to “Flashdance … What a Feeling.” The actress, known for her roles in comedies and dramas ranging from 30 Rock and The 40-Year-Old Virgin to The Hunger Games and this year’s Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy, said on the show that she’d been bitten by the “directing bug.” Millions of fans around the world are happy she was: Her directorial debut, Pitch Perfect 2, opened to $69 million in May — the highest domestic opening ever for a first-time director.
“I felt a real responsibility as a filmmaker who happens to be a woman to deliver on the film,” says Banks, who also produced the movie via Brownstone Productions, which she runs with husband Max Handelman. “I set out with the goal of making a bigger movie, a more blockbuster-sized version of Pitch Perfect.”
After the Universal sequel went on to earn $286.6 million worldwide, directing offers started rolling in, and Banks signed on to helm a new Charlie’s Angels for Sony.
“The original ethos of women who graduated from the police academy, and then were given the jobs of crossing guard and meter maid, I feel like that’s still very real in the world right now,” says the star, who also is attached to direct and produce the adaptation of YA hit Red Queen, a book she became interested in after starring as Effie Trinket in the Hunger Games franchise. Banks also will return to direct Universal’s third Pitch Perfect film, slated for release in July 2017.
“I definitely feel a responsibility to advocate on behalf of other women getting behind the camera,” says Banks, a mother of two boys.
The Massachusetts-born actress, who served on the Venice Film Festival jury in September and was nominated for an Emmy for her guest actress work on Modern Family this year, recently signed on to star in the war drama Rita Hayworth With a Hand Grenade.
“I’d like to play more lead roles,” she says, “which is such a ridiculous thing to say now that I’m not 26 and an ingenue. The ingenues usually have to play with the boys, and I’m much less interested in being the support system for a man in a movie.”
WHAT I WISH I KNEW WHEN I FIRST STARTED IN HOLLYWOOD “How to dress better.”
SUPERPOWER I WISH I HAD “Invisibility”
THE HOLLYWOOD CAREER I COVET “Tom Hanks”
FAVORITE TV SHOW (THE I’M NOT INVOLVED WITH) “Game of Thrones”
INDUSTRY PET PEEVE “I have many, but I don’t think there are any I’m willing to say as I’m an employee most of the time.”
As if biggest star in Hollywood wasn’t enough, Lawrence added advocate to her resume in October when she authored a defining essay on gender pay inequality in Hollywood, published in Lena Dunham’s newsletter,Lenny. The actress was moved to speak out after learning what her male co-stars in David O. Russell’s 2013 film American Hustle earned. “When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself,” wrote Lawrence. “I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early.” She wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. In fact, for Sony’s forthcoming Passengers, she commanded a hefty $20 million — more than co-star Chris Pratt is earning for the space romance, set to hit theaters Dec. 21, 2016. It’s been a year of endings for the star, betweenMockingjay — Part 2, the final title in the Hunger Games series, and her last X-Men movie, X-Men: Apocalypse, due in theaters in May.
She went on a whirlwind worldwide tour to promote Mockingjay, which opened Nov. 20 (it had grossed $206 million domestic as of Dec. 2), and now is preparing for the Dec. 25 release of Joy, widely expected to be a player in this year’s awards race (with buzz around Lawrence for a best actress nomination). The movie, directed by Russell, is loosely based on the life of Miracle Mop creator Joy Mangano. Oscar winner (and three-time nominee) Lawrence recently revealed that she will direct Project Delirium, based on Raffi Khatchadourian’s 2012 New Yorker piece about chemical weapon experiments performed on U.S. soldiers during the Cold War, and is co-writing a comedy with Amy Schumer. The Kentucky native also struck a pact this summer to be the face of Dior Addict makeup.
The final installment of the $2.7 billion Hunger Games franchise debuted behind expectations in November, but it remains a box-office giant with a global total of nearly $450 million to date. Jacobson now is moving into TV with American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, produced with Ryan Murphy, premiering on FX in early 2016. On the film side, she’s making RichardLinklater’sWhere’d You Go, Bernadette (Cate Blanchett will star) and The Goldfinch, based on Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.
INDUSTRY PET PEEVE “If you don’t like something, just go ahead and say it. Don’t give a vague, euphemistic, avoidant answer in some flowery language I don’t understand.”
WHAT I WISH I KNEW WHEN I FIRST STARTED IN HOLLYWOOD “You can bounce back.”
WHAT PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT ME “I have a horse I hardly ever ride. I keep it in Malibu.”
AS A WOMAN IN THIS BUSINESS, I’M STILL SURPRISED WHEN … “People act surprised that movies starring women are so successful.”
Check out the full list here.