Dakota Fanning discusses environmental issues, gender equality

"It's rare to see women in a film who are not somehow validated by a male," Fanning says.
By Annie Martin  |  May 30, 2014 at 5:33 PM
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NEW YORK, May 30 (UPI) -- Actress Dakota Fanning stays busy with her career and school.

The 20-year-old star has appeared in a number of films in recent years, and is pursuing a degree in women's studies at New York University. She recently spoke to The Daily Beast about her new movie Night Moves, and shared her thoughts on women and gender equality during the interview.

Fanning stars as the character Dena in director Kelly Reichardt's new film. Dena is a wealthy young woman who becomes an environmental extremist and funds a plot to blow up a hydroelectric dam. She teams up with ex-military member Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard) and radical Josh Stamos (Jesse Eisenberg) to execute the plan, and the trio face unexpected consequences when the mission goes awry.

"For Kelly's sake, she would want me to say that they're not 'ecoterrorists,'" the actress begins. "[Dena] doesn't know what an 'ecoterrorist' is."

"The things that people do for causes result in very small changes and sometimes you never even see any results," she relates. "So for these people, they need something that's immediate that they can see."

The movie's environmentalist themes attracted Fanning to the project, and she herself believes in the importance of preserving the earth.

"We can't continue to take from our planet the way we do and not give anything back," she asserts. "The idea of, 'Oh, but it's fine, I won't have to deal with it in my lifetime,' well, you need to think about the future generations who will have to deal with it."

The young star is also passionate about her degree in women's studies, and places a particular emphasis on "the portrayal of women in film and culture."

"It's something I've studied and thought about a lot," she shares. "It's rare to see women in a film who are not somehow validated by a male, or discusses a male, or heartbroken by a male, or end up being happy because of a male. It's interesting to think about, and it's very true."

"Of course men are part of women's lives, and that's fine," she continues. "But it's important to see strong, independent women who are making their own choices and aren't completely at the mercy of men. It shouldn't be, 'Oh, does this guy love me?' It should be, 'Do I love the guy?'"

"It's about both genders being equal," she concludes. "There's a history where when women get to a certain age in this industry, the roles become strictly the mother, the wife, or the older single woman. There should be more of a variety because there are so many different paths that humans take and they should be given a platform to be seen."

Night Moves debuts in select U.S. theaters on Friday.

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