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Frances McDormand on Shoegate, Hollywood’s Pay Gap and What Makes Her a Successful Producer

Frances McDormand on Shoegate, Hollywood's Pay Gap and What Makes Her a Successful Producer

Frances McDormand made quite the statement on Shoegate — and sundry other issues relating to women in the film industry — during a Women in Motion panel at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The actress and producer started with a frank appraisal of the Hollywood status quo by taking to the stage in sneakers, which she immediately replaced with high heels. “Just like Ginger Rogers knew with Fred Astaire, you have to do it backwards and in heels,” the “Olive Kitteridge” actress quipped, implying that women need to do considerably more work — and harder work — than men to achieve the same level of respect and success.

The Oscar-winning actress continued, “I’m much more of a sneaker person, but I think they think that flats are the road to ruin, and I’m going to end up in [sneakers] on the red carpet.” 

McDormand then declared that the “main point” of feminism, according to her interpretation, is “equal pay for equal work,” which has yet to be realized in the film world. “I haven’t been given that,” McDormand revealed. She admitted that she’s only met her quote once — on “Transformers 3″ — and still, it was less than an actor in her league would have made. “I worked very hard for that money, I’m very proud of my work. I’m glad I did that film, and I’m proud that I finally got paid what I was told I was worth by the industry,” she explained. “But that is nothing. That is a tenth of what most males my age, with my experience and my reputation as a film actor, make. We’ve never been paid commensurately, and that has to change.”

When an audience member identified Meryl Streep as an actress who would receive a leading man’s salary, McDormand challenged the claim, saying, “I doubt that she has ever been paid commensurately with the male movie stars she’s worked with.”

McDormand rejected the notion that women in the industry need “help,” suggesting that the lack of female directors “has a lot to do with how we’ve ghettoized females, and we’ve allowed ourselves to be ghettoized and marginalized. … We don’t need a lot of initiatives for women in film. What we need is money.” According to McDormand, “We’re keeping the conversation back a little bit by saying we need help. We don’t need help, we need money. We need platforms, we need voices, but we don’t need help.” 

“Olive Kitteridge” marked McDormand’s first producing credit. Our TV critic Sara Stewart praised the HBO miniseries and hailed the eponymous character as the new patron saint of female curmudgeons. The drama earned awards from the WGA, SAG and DGA. McDormand attributed her success in producing to her experience as a homemaker, explaining, “One of the reasons I am successful as a producer is that I’ve been a very successful housewife. All the skills of housewifery are the ones I’m using as a producer. I don’t mean that facetiously, because it’s a fucking job, it’s a hard job.”

McDormand is currently developing a script on a narrative adaptation of Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” a bestselling book examining the politics of food. She will star in the project. 

[via The Hollywood Reporter

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