Gwyneth Paltrow was honored at Variety’s Power of Women Luncheon on Friday for her support of LA Kitchen, a non-profit focused on food-related issues. The Oscar winner delivered a speech at the event and devoted some of her time at the podium to discussing the evolving role of women in Hollywood.
“When I was a young women in Hollywood, if you were a woman focused on building your career, you were labeled ambitious, and that was a bad word,” Paltrow revealed. “So, I was decidedly not, and developed an ‘Oh, how could this happen to me?’ approach.”
Paltrow was pressured to curtail her drive and ambition — and speaking honestly about those qualities in herself — so she could be a more accessible and gracious “America’s Sweetheart.” Because heaven forbid actresses take credit for their success and openly strive to improve their careers.
The “Shakespeare in Love” actress was also “told to temper [her] use of S.A.T. words in interviews because it made [her] ‘unlikable.'”
Basically, Paltrow was encouraged to act dumber than she was and grateful for fear of seeming cold or calculating.
“Fear of how we are perceived seems to be waning and things are being brought to life,” said Paltrow. “We are empowering each other. We are banding together to support each other. Yes, we suffer some slings and arrows along the way…. But I feel those slings and arrows fortify us.”
“There no longer seems to be the fear of retribution,” Paltrow explained. “We are encouraging each other to change business models, to try new ventures. We are banding together to support each other, to give each other advice, to change our existing culture. I believe that we are on the verge of creating a new [archetype where it’s possible for women to be] nurturing, maternal, sexual.”
Another honoree at the event, Salma Hayek, also commented on the changing landscape for women in Hollywood and worldwide. “In the 20 years I have been an activist for women, I can smell airs of change, especially in this industry for the first time,” she said.
Earlier this year, Comedy Central’s Peabody Award-winning “Inside Amy Schumer” aired a sketch satirizing women’s appearances on late-night talk shows. Schumer, playing a composite of female celebrities, offered inane anecdotes, flirted shamelessly and baby-talked her way through the interview. The bit seemed less like an indictment of actresses than of Hollywood as an industry that puts and keeps women in boxes.
As Emma Stone famously observed of Andrew Garfield, her male co-star in “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “You get asked interesting questions because you are a boy. It is sexism.” Scarlett Johansson made a similar comment about her “Avengers” co-star Robert Downey, Jr.: “How come you get the existential question and I get the rabbit food question?” As #AskHerMore demonstrated, women have a lot to insightful things to say, if only they’re presented with the opportunity to do so. As Paltrow noted, women are empowering other women, and part of that process includes speaking out against sexist expectations of who and what an actress — and women — should be.
You can watch Paltrow’s speech at Variety.
[via Vanity Fair]