If You're an Actress Who Wants to Win an Oscar, You Should Probably Play a Wife

Illustration for article titled If Youre an Actress Who Wants to Win an Oscar, You Should Probably Play a Wife

After examining every Best Actor and Best Actress winner in Oscars history, Fusion’s Molly Fitzpatrick noticed something intriguing: the top-winning job for the Best Actress category is “Wife,” and the top-winning job for the Best Actor category is “Criminal.”


Though we’re all aware of the types of roles offered to women in Hollywood, it’s still a little shocking to see it all quantified. Just take a look at the top six occupations for Best Actress and Best Actor winners; you may not gasp at these percentages, but you might shake your head and sink in your chair a little.

Best Actress

  1. Wife (16%)
  2. Entertainer (14%)
  3. Widow (11%)
  4. Blue Collar/Service (11%)
  5. Socialite/Heiress (8%)
  6. Prostitute (7%)

Best Actor

  1. Criminal (13%)
  2. Military (11%)
  3. Entertainer (10%)
  4. Arts and Literature (8%)
  5. Royalty/Nobility (8%)
  6. Blue Collar (7%)

Though nearing parity when it comes to roles as entertainers (actors love playing actors, regardless of gender) Fusion writes:

No Best Actress winners have won for playing military members or journalists, occupations that account for 10 and three Best Actors, respectively. Likewise, no Best Actors have won for playing boyfriends or prostitutes, though there are two girlfriends and six prostitutes in the annals of Best Actresses.


Much like #OscarsSoWhite, this problem extends far beyond awards season, and is indicative of an institutional problem with regards to the types of movies that get made in Hollywood (movies about men), and the types of people they prefer to cast (white ones).

Just to remind you: the frontrunners for this years Oscar race are Leonardo DiCaprio as a vengeful hunter in The Revenant, and Brie Larson as a mother and abduction victim in Room.

Contact the author at bobby@jezebel.com.

Image via Sony Pictures.

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They probably don’t point it out specifically, since it may fall under the umbrella of “wife” to them, but I would be willing to bet a significant portion of my paycheck that the best actress award winners are also playing mothers. It’s just like when women are described, like in an obituary or article about a death — “She was a loving mother and wife” vs. “He was a brave citizen who risked his life for our freedom by fighting in the Army”. The fact that things like this are so common that it’s not even surprising anymore is even more disturbing.