The actress spoke to Stylist about why it’s so important to her to support younger women.
In recent years, there has been increased focus on the importance of mentoring as a feminist act. UK organisations such as TRiBE are dedicated to helping black British women build successful careers, while The Girls’ Network (winners of last year’s Stylist Prix Clarins competition) works to foster professional ambition in disadvantaged teenage girls. The more women help other women succeed, so this thinking goes, the closer we’ll be to true gender equality in the workplace.
Now, Kim Cattrall has revealed that she regularly mentors younger actresses and women producers, to provide them with the support and advice they need to survive in the entertainment industry – something that she feels is particularly important in the wake of #MeToo and Time’s Up.
Speaking to Stylist at a breakfast event for the charity Theirworld, Cattrall said that she had been mentoring younger women for at least 15 years.
“You know, Oprah says ‘speak your truth’,” she said. “I think to have longevity in your career you need mentoring and you need encouragement, so that you are not bullied and you feel supported and you speak up.”
Her goal, she said, is to “instil in them [the need to] stand up for themselves, but also to understand that the industry needs to be changed. So it’s kind of being the mum that I wasn’t biologically.”
Describing how her mentoring system works, Cattrall said: “It’s very informal; usually it’s young actresses that I work with, or I also mentor a young producer in New York. It’s just about having somebody to check in with. It can be as simple as that, or somebody to just have a coffee with, or someone to write an email or text saying ‘yikes, time out for me, I don’t know what to do. What do you think?’”
Crucially, she said, she doesn’t pretend that she can solve all of her mentees’ problems.
“Sometimes I don’t have an answer, I have maybe four more questions. So we talk about a plan. You know, it’s good to live in the moment and address what’s right in front of you, but again I think with longevity you have to have a plan, not just for your career but for your life.”
Cattrall added that it wasn’t uncommon for young women to feel scared and anxious in professional situations. “It’s a very fine line, I have found, for women to stand up for themselves, whether it’s in a male-dominated or a female-dominated situation. I think there can be a lot of fear related to that. But you have a right to be happy, you have a right to be heard.”
If the fear was once predominantly felt by women with relatively little professional power, she said, the tables have been turned in a post-#MeToo world. “There used to be just the fear to speak out, and now it’s the perpetrators [who are scared],” she said.
Cattrall attended the Theirworld event as the guest of the charity’s president Sarah Brown, who she has known for several years. The focus of the event was the issue of violence against women and girls, and Cattrall said that she saw parallels between her own mentoring and the charity’s work to make sure that “young women going into the world are safe and protected”.
“I think speaking out against horrendous events on the world stage is one thing, but I am, in my business and in my life, trying to take care of my block,” she said. “And I can do that consistently.
“On the world stage it becomes a debate that I don’t have as much influence or knowledge to address. So for me, I take each woman at a time that I can influence and help and support and encourage – and that feels right.”
Stylist’s Visible Women campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of women who’ve made a difference, celebrating their success, and empowering future generations to follow their lead. See more from Visible Women here.
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