Dame Kristin Scott Thomas said she “never really considered myself a feminist” before she was made honorary president of the Women’s Economic Forum and was not aware of the unconscious bias women can face.
The Four Weddings And A Funeral star, 59, who will soon be seen in the upcoming film Military Wives, was appointed to the role in October 2019.
She told Town & Country magazine: “I was very surprised to be approached because I’m not particularly famous for my activism and I’d never really considered myself a feminist.
“I really did assume that things had been dealt with by my parents’ generation – votes, bank accounts, equal pay – and having been brought up in a very female world, I wasn’t aware of quite how deep these things run and the unconscious bias.
“But then I started to read what they sent me and realised, ‘oh, so that’s why I shout at the radio when I’m in the car! That’s why I get cross!’ Because I am a secret feminist.
“I’m not just imagining it or being paranoid, this is actually happening.”
Dame Kristin also reflected on a time a director instructed her to be more “appealing”, saying: “I was so cross! That really rubbed me up the wrong way. It kicked something off in me.
“Why the hell should I be appealing? Why should I be pretty, and sweet, and kind, and nice, and have everybody love me? Why? I’m incredibly grumpy about lots and lots of things.”
She said she was excited to work with a creative who was articulating issues that affect women when she made a cameo on Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s series Fleabag, giving a lengthy monologue about menopause.
She said: “I knew this was something that a lot of women were just longing to get out there, because I was too.
“What’s so clever about Phoebe is she articulates these really buried feelings – she expresses what we’ve all been thinking about for ages.”
The spring issue of Town & Country is on sale from February 20.