In the candid chat, the two discussed when they first noticed the lack of female roles in the film industry.
Davis, 60, explained that while watching TV with her then-preschool daughter she noticed that there were far more male characters than there were female. When she started widening her scope, she noticed a similar problem among mainstream Hollywood films.
"The world is missing female characters. A lot of times there is one female character, maybe even a cool one, maybe even an important one. But where are all the rest?" Davis explained.
The actress said she started looking into the statistics and data of female roles and was horrified by the lack of opportunities. After realizing the problem, she created the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, an organization dedicated to improving gender balance in the entertainment industry.
"It wasn't so I could go educate the public, really. It was so I could go back to the people in the industry and present it to them and say, 'See, it really is still a problem,'" she said. "We go meet with every studio, every guild, every network, every production company and share it with them, privately. I don't really bust anybody publicly. It's much more efficient if I can impact the creators. So that's what we do. It's had a great impact."
Watson, 25, backed Davis' stance, admitting that most people don't recognize the problem until it's pointed out to them.
"If you've been sold the line that gender equality is something that is solved, and that we now live in an equal world and this has all been tackled, you're not looking for it in the same way," explained Watson. "I would say there have been different stages of my feminist awakening. The more layers you peel back and the more things you're made aware of, you're like, 'Oh my God.' "
To continue her efforts in trying to get more opportunities for females, Davis created the Bentonville Film Festival, which kicks off next week.
"It's to champion women and diversity in all media," Davis explained. "We're using the same philosophy as my institute, which is to make it research-based and really try to work directly with filmmakers and content creators and move the needle."