Natalie Portman, Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Breuel-Bild—ABB/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images, Evan Vucci—AP
By Nolan Feeney
June 15, 2015

Natalie Portman had one demand when she signed on to play Supreme Court Justice (and TIME 100 cover star) Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the upcoming film On the Basis of Sex: let a woman direct it.

“Natalie Portman came to talk to me about this, and we had a very good conversation,” Ginsburg said in a Saturday interview at the American Constitution Society convention, MSNBC reports. “And one thing, interesting, that she insisted on, it held up the project for awhile. She said, ‘I want the director to be a woman. There are not enough women in this industry. There are many talented out there.’ And now they do have a woman director.”

Deadline reported in May that Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) was in negotiations to direct the project.

Female directors are so poorly represented in Hollywood—last year, they directed only 7 percent of the top 250 grossing films—that the ACLU recently asked the federal government to investigate what it alleges are systematic bias and discriminatory hiring practices. The few women that do get to step into the director’s chair sometimes worry the success of their movies will determine the number of opportunities available to their peers. As Pitch Perfect 2 director Elizabeth Banks told TIME earlier this year:

There was definitely that pressure … If a boy wrote a sh—y script, you would never say, ‘Well, boys can’t do it!’ It’s never an option. But I’m very rare, and if I didn’t do it well, they would absolutely say, ‘If she couldn’t do it, I guess women can’t do it!’ I’m not very interested in representing my entire gender. I think it’s very unfair. But I do understand the responsibility, and hopefully I deliver.”

 

Write to Nolan Feeney at nolan.feeney@time.com.

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