Salma Hayek is my new heroine. This morning at the Kering Talks (Kering is a sponsor of the festival and Hayek’s husband François-Henri Pinault is the CEO) this woman dropped epic truth bombs for about an hour. Her co-speaker Matthias Schoenaerts didn’t get to say much but his performances are speaking for him; I saw him right after the talk in "Maryland" by Alice Winocour and last week loved him in "Far from the Madding Crowd." If Hollywood is listening every studio head should call her in and ask for her theory as to the gender problem in Hollywood. She has it so figured out.
Hollywood Report Editor Janice Min started off with the stats and then asked Salma why she thought that the stats about women in Hollywood were so bad and how we can get the men in power involved. Her answer: money. She said that they only way you can inspire men to care about this is money.
Here are some of the best truth bombs:
"We need to show them that we are an economical force. They have not discovered it because they are caught up in their macho stuff. The minute they see the money in this the business it will be instantaneously different."
"They (men) don’t see this as embarrassing."
"The only two industries where women make more money than men is fashion and pornography and in those we are treated as sexual objects. This is an ignorant way of looking at who we are." "We don’t want to watch things that promote us as sexual objects."
"Women don’t have enough voice and we can’t express who we are. We need to see ourselves."
She talked about how young girls and books like the "Hunger Games" are changing the market because Hollywood knows that those movies will make money. She also talked about the several generations of women who they have just ignored, and because they ignored us, we have abandoned them and now get our content on TV.
"They don’t produce it, so we don’t go to see it. Because there were no movies, we started watching TV."
"Movies are in trouble because we don’t want to see their movies. We lost the beautiful love for the ritual of going to the movies because we now watch content on tv because they abandoned us. They don’t know what we want."
"We evolved, they didn’t. We are smarter than the chick flicks and romantic comedies they want to sell us."
Here’s something I didn’t know – that A list actors have the ability to reject an actress in their contracts. They also have script approval and they don’t like when there is a strong female character. That the men say that they don’t want to play second banana to a woman. "99% of them want to be the star." But they get their way because if the guy doesn’t sign then the financing disappears.
"How do they know what we are worth if all the box office success is credited to the male star? We don’t get any credit when the film is successful."
On coming to America to act:
"I was a huge star in my country. When I came here I was an extra."
What a producer said to her about why she wasn’t getting parts:
"We can’t take the risk of you opening your mouth and people thinking of their maids. You could have been a big star but you were born in the wrong country."
She told the story about how a male director fought to cast her and then gave up when the studio kept saying no. He sent her a note saying he was ashamed and we should have walked away but he needed the movie. The studio wouldn’t hire her because they couldn’t imagine "a Mexican in space."
"I am Mexican. I am a woman. I am 48. I am at the bottom in Hollywood but I am working more than ever. I have never been embraced by the studio, I was always outside the system."
She’s producing a lot these days. She was a producer on "Frida" which took her eight years to get made.
After dropping all these truth bombs she made the comment that she will probably not work again. I doubt that, she is a super force to be reckoned with.