Geena Davis inspires women at Fresno conference

FRESNO, Calif.

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For many people, one of the highlights of Tuesday's conference was listening to Geena Davis' keynote speech.

She once played the first female president. And, who can forget her breakout role as a fugitive in Thelma and Louise? But, these days, award winning actress Geena Davis has kept herself busy with another important role -- serving as an advocate for women and girls.

"My goal is to have kids see boys and girls sharing the sandbox equally," said Davis.

Throughout her acting career, Davis says she's tried to stick with characters who portray women as strong and independent.

"After Thelma and Louise, I started really making choices based on thinking about the women that were going to be watching."

While she knew those roles were few and far between, the realization that males and females are not equal on camera came from watching movies and cartoons with her young daughter.

"I had no idea that was what we were feeding little kids from the very beginning."

Davis now runs an institute which studies gender in the media. She's also a United Nations ambassador, as well as a state commissioner on the status of women.

Davis used her own experiences to inspire this room full of women Tuesday. "My personal motto is -- if a person can do it, I can do it."

She also showed off her humorous side. "Eventually, I did start to get some work as a model here and there. I even got a cover -- New Jersey monthly!"

Based on how women felt when they left the room, her message came across exactly the way she wanted.

"I thought she really hit home for a lot of ladies that are here."

"I think that was definitely a great message to us is just get out there and make a difference."

Davis spoke to the crowd for about thirty minutes. She said while advocating for women is a big part of her life, acting is still her passion.

The 24th annual Central California Women's Conference kicked off with a warm up session. Award-winning speaker and TV/radio host Carolyn Gross focused on" staying calm in the midst of chaos" and told the crowd to be open to self evaluation and risk taking.

The theme of this year's event was "change." The goal was to empower women through a series of workshops on topics including careers, family management, diet, and exercise. The conference also has an exhibition area more than 150 with businesses representing women's specific needs.

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