The Grill 2015: Maria Bello on Pope Francis, Roles After 40 and Her New Digital Venture (Video)

“When you look at the numbers and who is consuming the media — you realize it’s women. We have an opportunity,” she says at TheWrap’s sixth annual media leadership conference

Maria Bello is charting her own course in the entertainment industry.

As the second-day spotlight conversation for The Grill 2015, TheWrap’s sixth annual media leadership conference, Bello talked about how her 2013 New York Times op-ed about her romantic relationship with a woman has had a ripple effect on her personal and professional life.

In the two years since her piece, in which she described her sexual identity as “whatever,” Bello has written a book — “Whatever… Love Is Love,” landed multiple high-profile jobs like the forthcoming David Kelly legal drama “Trial” with Amazon, and as prepared to enter the universe of digital content creation.

The op-ed garnered 275,000 comments on the Times website. Bello was touched by the majority of the feedback, saying the public sentiment “mostly about family and about partnership.”

In the wake of her public admission, Bello also decided to reclaim her RomanCatholicism. Moderator and founder of TheWrap Sharon Waxman asked for Bello’s thought on Pope Francis’ recent U.S. visit.

“With this new pope it’s been very interesting, the polarizing and uniting force he’s become,” she said. “I’ve been very proud on his focus on service and the poor — but then I hear he meets Kim Davis, and think, ‘Oh, God, he got all Popey on me.’”

Addressing her professional life, Bello hinted at an announcement coming in November that she’ll be heading a content engine aimed at women and diverse audiences — but one emphasizing a universal, human element.

“A lot of my work right now is creating content for this new mobile platform,” she said.

More directly, Bello expressed frustration that conversations she’s had about affecting change for underrepresented groups don’t lead anywhere — she doesn’t want talk, she wants action.

“The whole ‘How do we move the needle for that?’ — I’m kind of bored of the conversation,” she said. “It’s just good business. When you look at the numbers and who is consuming the media — you realize it’s women. We have an opportunity.”

Her new mobile endeavor will address those issues on the creative side, with shorts and a web series, as well as first-person informational video. And while the playing field isn’t exactly level, Bello takes a realistic approach — especially when it comes to her expectations as an actress.

“Some say, ‘It’s so hard for women to get roles over 40’  — yeah, if you’re 40 and trying to look 20. There are roles for women who are 48 and try to look 48,” she said.

Indeed, Bello has action franchises in the can such as “The 5th Wave” and “Max Steel,” as well as the upcoming Amazon show.

“I’m interested in changing the perspective of what a woman’s story is,” Bello said. And that clearly starts at home.

Watch the full interview here: