By Angela Salazar
Updated Sep 10, 2016 @ 8:45 am
Credit: Matthew Brookes

With two major films hitting theaters this fall— the star-studded Western The Magnificent Seven, out now, and the hotly anticipated The Girl on the Train, opening Oct. 7—actress Haley Bennett is definitely having a moment, and she’s using it to send an empowering message to women everywhere.

As the lone female star in the male-dominated The Magnificent Seven cast (which includes Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Matt Bomer and Peter Sarsgaard, among other handsome leading guys), Bennett holds her own gun-slinging and horseback riding as she seeks justice for the murder of her husband and townspeople in the film.

“I didn’t grow up a huge fan of the Western genre because there was never a female character to relate to or look up to,” Bennett told InStyle at the Toronto International Film Festival. “We need a Western like this. A modern Western that has a woman right there in the forefront doing everything the guys are doing.”

The 28-year-old even took to Instagram, sharing a behind-the-scenes photo from the film with a caption that read in part: “I hope girls and women will see #TheMagnificentSeven and be inspired by Emma. I hope they will say, I am a leader too. I will not be defined by my gender.” The post goes on to encourage women to be powerful, fearless, and in control of their destiny.

A photo posted by Haley Bennett (@halolorraine) on Sep 3, 2016 at 7:58am PDT

And it turns out the testosterone-fueled set may have helped pave the way for Bennett’s role in The Girl on the Train as well. “I read the book while I was shooting The Magnificent Seven, totally by coincidence,” she said. “It was a little bit of solace from the male aspect of the film that I was shooting. It was three female narrators so that was a very attractive quality for me; to dive into these interesting women’s lives.”