On this International Women's Day we look at some of the ways that the role of women in Hollywood has changed over the years - both in front and behind the screen.

How On-Screen Roles Have Changed

If one woman did more to get us to fall in love with her and television, it had to be Lucille Ball. Her wacky and hilarious escapades in I Love Lucy during the 50’s made audiences tune in each week to find out what she was up to next. Maybe Lucy always had some “s’plaining to do” for Ricky, but there was no need to explain why she ruled the airwaves for years.

She showed us that a strong female could still funny and charming. In many ways, Lucy paved the way for women to play more than the role of housewives on television.

On the big screen, Sigourney Weaver set the bar for women in action. Her role as Ellen Ripley in the sci-fi horror film, Alien, in 1979 was ground-breaking and blazed a trail for other women action heroes. Yet, she points out, “‘The reason they made the lead a woman was not some sort of passionate feminism.

It was because they thought, ‘Nobody will suspect the survivor will be a woman.’ It’s a great surprise.’”

While Making Differences Behind the Camera

Recently, Star Wars: The Force Awakens launched across screens around the globe with a few possible surprises still to come, marking the passing of the galactic empire from Lucasfilm to Disney. But all of this may not have been possible without the woman behind the legendary George Lucas.

Few know the role that Marcia Lucas played in creating the Star Wars universe. Not only did she edit all three of the original trilogy - Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi - taking home one of the few Oscars, Marcia Lucas suggested key changes to build tension in the original movie. “If the audience doesn’t cheer [at the climactic ending,] the picture doesn’t work.”

This year’s Oscar big winner was the Mad Max:Fury Road.

The director credited his wife Margaret Sixel with editing over 480 hours of film down to the two that allowed their film to receive 10 Academy Award nominations and winning six.

Still, this year’s controversy at the Oscars showed that while Hollywood has come a long way, there is still a lot of work ahead.

Who are your favorite women characters or role models in film and television?

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