Rose McGowan says she wants to make Hollywood better for women after being fired by her agent, allegedly for sounding off about a sexist casting note.
“I’m interested in making the industry better so that women following in my footsteps know that they don’t have to take abuse just because she wants be creative,” the actress told PEOPLE on Thursday in New York City.
McGowan, 41, had slammed a casting note she received at an audition for a movie. The note, which she shared a screengrab of on Twitter, advised actresses reading for the part to display cleavage and dress in tight clothing for the audition. She had said that the part was for a movie starring an actor whose name “rhymes with Madam Panhandler,” spurring talk that she may have been referring to Adam Sandler.
A week later, the Charmed star said she had been fired by her agent.
“My agent fired me, which is funny because I was under the impression that I employed them,” she Tweeted.
Regardless, McGowan, who made her directorial debut on Wednesday with short film Dawn, doesn’t regret putting the sexist note on blast.
“It’s brave and scary, and being brave doesn’t mean you don’t get scared,” she tells PEOPLE. “My ankles shook a little bit after I got the email firing me. I thought, ‘Oh god, the blacklist, here we go.’ I have so many other businesses and other interests that it doesn’t really matter to me, though.”
McGowan says she wishes there was Human Resources for actors and actresses, and feels she spent most of her career without anyone in her “corner.”
“I experienced a lot of treachery. But luckily, times are changing, you know, and I think it’s time,” she tells PEOPLE.
McGowan says it’s upsetting that no one at the film studio found the request inappropriate.
“What bothered me was that nobody red-flagged this,” she says. “It went through so many hands that thought it was okay. It might have been a girl that had to type that up.”
The actress says she’s received the support of fellow stars like Jessica Chastain and Heather Matarazzo, but notes that the incident reflects only a fraction of what actresses have had to endure.
“It’s just a tiny flashlight on the grossness, but there’s a lot of grossness,” she insists. “There’s stuff that has happened to me that would make your hair curl, that will go in my book someday.”
One purported double standard that she takes issue with? Hair length.
“The basic one was that you have to have your hair long because the men want to f— you to hire you,” the actress, who now wears her hair short, says. “They said that to a 17-year-old. It made sense to me at the time, though. I was thinking, ‘Oh, okay, I need to get hired so I can pay for my rent, I’ll grow my hair long.’ It’s those tiny things that are said that create the worst kind of harm.”
Rose McGowan Says Her Agent Dropped Her After She Labeled Casting Call as Sexist
• Reporting by ROSE MINUTAGLIO