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‘The only kind of film where women make more money than men is porno’ Salma Hayek calls out inequality in film

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Harriet Hall
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Salma Hayek has come out as Hollywood’s latest feminist whistle-blower, following comments she made at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday.

Speaking at a panel organised by Variety magazine and the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign, the actor, who stars in Matteo Garonne’s Italian horror, The Tale of Tales, debuting at the festival, critiqued all elements of the film industry. She referenced citing sexist directors, the wage gap, and casting methods, as problems to be resolved.

Hayek, who has also worked as a director and producer - most notably for multi-award winning 2002 Frida Khalo biopic, Frida - made a rallying cry for gender equality in film, arguing that “cinema undermines women’s intelligence”.

“For a long time they thought the only thing we were interested in seeing were romantic comedies,” Hayek said. “They don’t see us as a powerful economic force.”

Salma Hayek Ugly Betty

The actor starred in Ugly Betty with America Ferrera

Hayek outed the Hollywood casting process as “very sexist”, telling of her experience on one occasion when a director approached her for a role and subsequently sought confirmation of her by the male lead. “They get approval of leading ladies. The dude didn’t approve me and I got kicked out.”

The Ugly Betty star’s primary bug-bear was the continuing pay gap problem in the film industry, between men and women playing equivalent roles. Hayek challenged Hollywood to open its eyes and see female actors as the monetary force they could be. “They have to understand how powerful we are economically. We have the power to show them we can save this film industry,” she said, but even when a woman does land a leading role, “the dude takes the credit.” “It’s simple, plain ignorance.”

“They think the only value we bring to a movie is as an object. The only kind of film where women make more money than men is porno. It’s not funny.” Well, we’re not laughing, either.

The Mexican-born American was criticised last year for disassociating herself from the word “feminist” but in an interview in The Guardian this year, said: “I am a feminist because I love women and I am ready to fight for women”.

 

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Harriet Hall

Harriet Hall is a former Stylist contributor.

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