Emily Beecham believes actresses are cast for being “shaggable” early in their careers.
The star said young female talents in their 20s are sought for a “purpose”, which is simple sex appeal.
Winner of the best actress award at the Cannnes Film Festival, Beecham thinks the industry pigeon-holes young actresses as girlfriends.
She said depth and complexity in roles came later in her own life, and with greater success, but she had to suffer limited scripts and found navigating the industry in her “tricky” 20s.
Beecham, 35, believes figures like Phoebe Waller-Bridge have opened more doors for women, but also fears Brexit may jeopardise the funding for British cinema, which has allowed independent creatives to showcase diverse talent.
Speaking at the British Film Institute (BFI) Luminous event in London, she said that financial pressures could threaten the progress made in filmmaking.
She stated: “I think in my 20s I probably found it a bit tricky.
“I think there’s an awful lot of girlfriend roles and roles in your 20s which serve a purpose, which is to be shaggable.
“I think when you reach a certain point they start to become a bit more complex and layered.”
She added: “I think for women it’s getting better.
“There are more equal opportunities for more people. I certainly read some interesting female roles
“I think Phoebe Waller-Bridge and co opened the gateway, opened the doors for people to realise that there’s really valuable and interesting stories.”
Beecham has worked with the Coen Brothers on Hail, Ceasar! and in 2019 was honoured at Cannes for her work in Little Joe.
She believes in the power of independent cinema to tell unique stories, but is concerned Brexit may threaten the industry in the UK.
She said: “We don’t really know what’s going to happen with Brexit, but that will surely affect money everywhere. And of the film industry is dependent on funding
“It would be a shame because British film is brilliant and original, speaks with voices for many people
“If there are less production it’s definitely going to affect the amount of work that is available.”
Beechcam attended the Luminous event at The Roundhouse in London, which saw film stars gather to raise money for the future British cinema talents.