Monday 5 December 2016

Salma Hayek: 'The only film where women make more money than men is porno'

Hannah Furness

Published 16/05/2015 | 19:50

Actress Salma Hayek gestures as she poses during a photocall ahead of a debate
Actress Salma Hayek gestures as she poses during a photocall ahead of a debate "Kering Women in Motion" at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France. Reuters/Regis Duvignau

Salma Hayek, the actress, has accused Hollywood of "incredible ignorance" about women, as she lifts the lid on the astonishing sexism she has faced at work.

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Hayek, one of the best-known actresses in the world, delivered an excoriating verdict on the film industry, which she claims ignores and misunderstands the tastes of women, and fails to recognise their talents on screen.

Specifically, she disclosed how high-grossing male stars outflank their female counterparts financially and in contract, claiming they are regularly permitted to veto actresses lined up to appear in their films.

She told an audience she had previously agreed to take part in films thanks to witty, intelligent lines for her character, only to find them dumbed down when she got on set so as not to outshine the lead man.

Women, she argued, are also being short changed by an industry off-screen, because film executives had failed to understand what female audiences want.

Hayek, who also works as a producer and director, appeared at a UN Women panel event about film, alongside actresses Parker Posey, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and the producers of Cate Blanchett's new film Carol.

Speaking of how to tackle problems of equality in the film business, Hayek said: "We can't stand as victims and say we need to make them aware of women. Because guess what? They don't care.

"There's only one thing that inspires the people and the power in the industry, and that's money. They have to understand how powerful we are economically.

"We have the power to show them we can save this film industry."

Of why the situation did not seem to be improving over time, she added: "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."

Speaking of the current situation for actresses, she said: "Our pay can never go up because we never get the opportunity to show what we can bring in revenue."

Even when an A-list actress brings in audiences to a film, she added, the numbers still registered in the lead actor's favour.

"The dude takes the credit," she said. Speaking of her own experience in the film industry, she gave an expectedly frank insight into the problems she had faced personally, thanks in no small part to unnamed leading men.

"I've had movies where the director really wanted me, but the dude didn't approve and I've got pipped out," she said.

"In scripts, a lot of the time there is a part that's good, that then starts dumbing down. If you get on set and start to make it better, they don't like it."

The panel singled out Alec Baldwin as a celebrated exception to the rule, being proactive in taking parts where women are allowed to shine.

"Cinema undermines women's intelligence," Hayek concluded. "It's been doing it for some time now. "They don't see us as a powerful economic force, which is really incredible ignorance."

The panel was put on by Variety magazine and UN Women, which runs the He For She equality campaign headed by actress Emma Watson.

Telegraph.co.uk

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