NEW YORK — Jodie Whittaker calls being cast as the first woman to portray Doctor Who “a step in the right direction” when it comes to gender equality in Hollywood, but doesn’t feel that she’s broken a glass ceiling because there’s more work to be done.
Moments before the latest season of “Doctor Who” debuted in a global-wide telecast on Sunday, Whittaker was at New York Comic Con with showrunner Chris Chibnall, and Executive Producer Matt Strevens talking about the new season and the historical casting decision.
“Do I think the glass ceiling is broken? No. Do I think that this is a positive step in the direction of equality in the representation on film? Yeah. But it’s not broken,” Whittaker said.
The long-running television series chronicles the adventures of an extraterrestrial time lord who travels to different time periods to help people, without doing anything drastic that may alter the course of history.
Whittaker became the 13th to play the eponymous character, and explains why she hopes to be a role model for everyone, regardless of gender.
“When I was growing up, there was never a question that as a girl you would look up to guys. That’s what you did. Whereas there’s a slight mythology in the sense if you’re a girl, you’re a hero for a girl, which is not the case,” she said. “And so, I think the wonderful thing about this is being a role model for anyone, which the Doctor has always been regardless of gender.”
While Whittaker was honored to get the role, she noted that the casting announcement seemed like a bigger deal than it was because “gender becomes immediately irrelevant within the show because the Doctor is the Doctor.”
The actress calls herself a “New Whovian” that began watching the show after she got the role. What she learned from her binge watching was “how inclusive it is.”
On the floor of Comic Con, fans spoke positively about this Doctor.
Twelve-year old Danielle Nickelson, dressed as Harley Quinn, was glad to see a woman in the role. “I like that they made it a woman, because usually nowadays shows don’t really have girls in them. It’s more like boys, like Spider-Man,” Nickelson said.
And in-between practicing moves from her favorite video game, “Street Fighter,” longtime fan Lia Vanderlinden had her own take on accepting the new Doctor.
“Essentially, every new Doctor is like getting a stepdad. Originally, you’re like, ‘You’re not my dad, I don’t like you.’ And after a while you go, ‘You’re pretty great, too.’” We can share time.”
She added: “It should be interesting.”