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Cannes 2015: Salma Hayek, Empowering Women In Film

Cannes 2015: Salma Hayek, Empowering Women In Film

Dany Vasquez has provided huge publicity support to SydneysBuzz here at the Cannes Film Festival 2015, and is a part of the new generation of passionate media talents in the film industry. She recently attended an amazing discussion with TimesTalk (New York Times) and Salma Hayek here at Cannes. SydneysBuzz is happy to have Dany share her impressions on Salma’s empowering message. 

By Dany Vasquez: I was lucky enough to attend a TimesTalks panel at the
American Pavilion featuring Salma Hayek in conversation with The New York Times contributor Logan
Hill. Not only is she a talented, award-winning actress and producer, but she
is also an intelligent, classy, well-spoken woman working in an industry that has
often times overlooked her value.

I understood from a young age what it would mean for me to grow up as a
female minority – the knowledge that I would have to work twice as hard to be
considered half as good, the status quo already against my favor, the
assumptions that would be set in stone in people’s minds.

Women and ethnic minorities are still something of a rarity within the film
industry. Growing up, it was discouraging to look at what I was most passionate
about, and not see my own face reflected back at me. No one should have to feel
like their dreams are unattainable because of who they are.

This is why it is nothing short of inspiring to hear a woman
like Salma Hayek speak about her experiences in the industry, and how her
identity and background have influenced her career over the years. This
particular panel was focused on her in-competition film at Cannes, Tale of Tales, and her upcoming animated
film, Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet,
from which we were able to see a couple short clips.

She also spoke at length about her role in Frida, for which she was nominated for
Best Actress in 2002 (only the second Latin American actress in the history of
the Academy with this claim to fame). Her passion and gratitude for the film shined
as she revealed why the role meant so much to her. It was refreshing to hear
someone speak from the heart about the things that matter so much.

One story she told that has remained in the back of my mind
was about how she got the leading role of the Queen in Tale of Tales. Director Matteo Garrone called her up and presented
her with the opportunity, but that wasn’t what stuck with me. It was her
reaction to his proposal — her genuine surprise that he
wanted to work with her, and her shock of the role that he offered:

“Not the stripper or the maid!” she
exclaimed in disbelief. “But the queen!!!”

That fact that a hugely successful, experienced,
Oscar-nominated actress can still be shocked by the opportunity to star in a
prestigious leading role speaks volumes to the state of the industry.

There is a lot to take away from her panel, but mostly, I am grateful that
there are women like her in the industry, candidly speaking about their
experiences and the obstacles they have had to overcome. They may be few and
far between, but the hope is that this will soon change.

In the meantime, there is one important thing to remember. Representation
matters.

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