Alex Wilson

Even if you haven’t seen her in her newest movie, “Atomic Blonde,” you probably already know that Charlize Theron kicks butt. The South African actress is well-known across the world for her roles in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Cider House Rules,” and many other films. But outside of being an award-winning-actress, Theron deals with the same gender disparities that we do; it’s just that hers are within a different industry.

Speaking with Bustle, Theron acknowledged that there’s a lot of inequality in the film industry.  “If [“Atomic Blonde”] doesn’t do well, it will take me awhile to make another movie like this,” she said.  “It’s a difficult thing to go and actually make the movie that you developed, and I think that’s the thing I’m the most proud of.”

The success of a movie is typically judged by its box office performance, Theron explained. If the movie performs well, everyone is happy. But that changes if the film does make back its initial investments.  If a male-fronted film doesn’t perform, executives see the project as the problem.  In contrast, if a female-led project is unsuccessful, the actress — not the project — is blamed.

“It’s very unfair for women,” Theron said. “We have one movie that doesn’t work and then all of a sudden… we just have to go back to square one.”

In its first weekend of wide release, “Atomic Blonde” made $18.6 million — meaning that it both met industry expectations and surpassed a similar male-led action film, “John Wick.” Combined with the positive fan reception to the film, it’s no surprise that Theron has already started developing a sequel.

But Theron’s success isn’t the only reason we should be celebrating the release of “Atomic Blonde.” In her recent interview with Bustle, Theron shared her strategies for fighting gender inequality:

1. She wants to actually do the work.

Theron has no problem getting her hands dirty. In fact, she’d prefer it. But she was initially surprised when people didn’t expect her to produce and develop films herself. When she first expressed interest in getting more hands on, Theron asked her team, “’When do I do the work?’ And they were like ‘no no no no no, you don’t have to do anything.’ I actually thought it was an insult. It was like, wait, I see what this is, you think I can’t actually do the job.” Theron proved everyone wrong with her success, but it goes to show that women at work still fight an uphill battle for respect.

2. She founded her own company.

In order to develop the woman-centric projects that Theron wanted to make, she founded her own production company — Denver & Delilah Productions.  Denver & Delilah helped bring some of Theron’s best projects to life, including “Young Adult” and “Monster,” which she won a Best Actress Oscar for. With a first-look deal with Universal Cable Productions and several projects in development, Theron shows no signs of stopping. It’s no wonder that fellow actors Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington have followed in her footsteps.

3. She challenges preconceived stereotypes.

Theron acknowledges that it’s hard to get more female-led content made.  “It is still very much an everyday thing to work on something or try to sell something and still have Neanderthals tell you things like, 'they’re not gonna like her’… I look at those things as the thorn in my side, but it doesn’t stop us from doing what we want to do.”

On creating other opportunities for women, Theron knows that there’s a lot more to be done.  “You have to be able to look at that and realize there’s still an equality there that you have to acknowledge,” she said. “This [success] has all been so great, but at the same time, I also realize that there needs to be more opportunities like this for women.”

Fighting for gender parity is challenging, but important and worthwhile.  Theron reminds us that no matter what you’re facing, it’s never too late to start standing up for yourself and what you deserve.