Salma Hayek Pinault joined other actresses including Reese Witherspoon, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Gwyneth Paltrow at Variety’s Power of Women luncheon on Friday. The event, sponsored by Lifetime, was to honor Hayek and Paltrow along with three other women who use their status to promote worthy causes: Oprah Winfrey (she built Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, a school in South Africa for girls), Anna Kendrick (Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide services to LGBTQ teens), and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki (sponsoring “Room To Read,” an educational charity.)
Hayek Pinault co-founded Chime for Change with Beyoncé and Gucci. The charity “supports nongovernmental agencies with the mission of empowering women and girls around the world through initiatives focused on education, health and justice,” according to Variety. Paltrow sponsors L.A. Kitchen, a non-profit that trains chefs who have either been convicts or disenfranchised foster children. The organization has a goal of serving 2,000 to 3,000 meals a day to the general public, and 3,000 to 6,000 more meals daily to seniors by 2016. The chefs prepare meals from fruits and vegetables that would be thrown away.
The luncheon also served as a platform for Salma and others to voice their opinions about Hollywood sexism. Hollywood has long been notorious for discriminating against women, exploiting women, and generally dismissing and ignoring women. According to Salma, women make up 50 percent of the population and 66 percent of the workforce, but “only get 10 percent of the income of the world.” “This is really, really sad and tragic,” she said. “In the 20 years I have been an activist for women, I can smell the airs of change, especially in this industry for the first time.” Hayek Pinault’s words were followed by enthusiastic applause.
“We are the generation that said, ‘We’re not going away at 30!’… They cannot ignore us anymore.”
Another actress who spoke out about Hollywood sexism was Gwyneth Paltrow. Paltrow talked about how she was told as a young actress not to be “ambitious.” That was apparently a bad word in Hollywood. Paltrow went on to say that she thought Hollywood is finally “on the verge of creating a new archetype,” where it’s possible for a woman to be “nurturing, maternal, sexual.”
The internet seems to think the actresses’ grievances are about money, but from what is said in the speeches, it’s really not. Yes, it’s true that actresses feel that they are paid less than their male counterparts, but it’s more about how Hollywood treats women in the industry. Women who are in their 40s are told they can’t be the love interest of a 55-year-old male lead, for example. Women who are not as young as they once were are given matronly roles such as grandmothers or mothers, apparently females over the age of 30 can’t be sexy. Reese Witherspoon made a joke of it when she introduced the only male who was being honored at the event, 20th Century Fox chairman/CEO Jim Gianopulos.
“We’re not going to talk about you when you leave and tell you that you can’t be the love interest opposite George Clooney — but you can be the mother.”
Women have often been the victim of sexual harassment in Hollywood, as well. Recently, Ashley Judd talked about her sexual harassment ordeal as an actress. In the early years of Hollywood, actresses were subjected to this quite frequently, and were blacklisted if they tried to tell anyone. Women have been exploited by Hollywood throughout the history of the industry. It does seem that women make more if they take their clothes off.
The more women directors and producers there are in Hollywood, the better chance women have of being treated fairly and honorably. Salma Hayek Pinault has produced and directed before — she produced Frida, a movie about a female Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo. Salma also played the role of Frida. Other projects that Hayek Pinault produced and directed were The Maldonado Miracle, a Showtime movie, and Ugly Betty. Kudos to Salma for standing up to Hollywood and saying “We’re not going away at 30!”
What do you think about Hollywood’s treatment of women? Do you think Hollywood is sexist when it comes to women’s roles in film?
[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]