On Saturday evening at the Cannes Film Festival, Salma Hayek joined hands with Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins and actress Sofia Boutella for a historic march up the Palais red carpet for equal rights. Hayek was one of the 82 women who climbed the theaters steps together—a moving statement symbolizing the fact that only 82 films directed by women have been honored by an official selection in competition in the festivals 71-year history, in comparison to the 1,645 films directed by men.
It was the best way to make an impact at the festival, Hayek explained to press on Sunday, “because cinema is about visual images. It may have looked like a lot of women but it felt like such a small number. We could fit comfortably on the steps. . . we had room. We were not packed in like sardines.”
Hayek has been on the front lines of the Times Up movement since December, when she wrote a searing personal essay for the New York Times about the abusive behavior she claims Harvey Weinstein subjected her to during the making of 2002s Miramax-distributed Frida. In the months since, Hayek took a courageous stand at the Academy Awards—alongside other Weinstein accusers Ashley Judd and Annabella Sciorra—to commemorate the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
And during a Kering Women in Motion Talk at the Cannes Film Festival, Hayek said that while myriad women levied accusations against Weinstein last year, the disgraced studio mogul only responded directly to her and Lupita Nyongos allegations.
“He only responded to two women. . .the women of color,” Hayek told press. “It was a strategy by the lawyers, because we are the easiest to be discredited. . . It is a well-known fact that, if you are a women of color, people believe you and believe in you less. . .he went back attacking the two women of color. . .if he could discredit us, he could then maybe discredit the rest. . . so he went to [what he thought were] the weakest links.”
In December, shortly after Hayeks op-ed was published, Weinsteins rep released a statement disputing her account: “All of the sexual allegations as portrayed by Salma are not accurate and others who witnessed the events have a different account of what transpired.” In October, after Nyongo published her own op-ed in the New York Times, a rep for Weinstein said, “Mr. Weinstein has a different recollection of the events, but believes Lupita is a brilliant actress and a major force for the industry. . .Last year, she sent a personal invitation to Mr. Weinstein to see her in her Broadway show Eclipsed.”
Weinstein has responded directly to allegations made by white women as well. He told Page Six that he “never laid a glove” on Ashley Judd, one of his first accusers, the day the Times published its first Weinstein report in October. In February, Weinstein also denied a new set of allegations from Uma Thurman, when his publicist dismissed her charges by saying the executive had made an “awkward pass” at the actress. Despite the avalanche of allegations, Weinstein has “unequivocally denied” any allegations of nonconsensual sex or sexual harassment.
Hayek continued: “The good news is that there were so many [accusers].” The actress added that she wishes the Times Up movement had launched earlier, telling press, “We should have been angrier sooner. . . more than angry. . . we should have come together. . because that is whats made the difference. But its O.K. Let's not look back; were together now.”
Speaking about the impact of Times Up on the industry, Hayek said, “Men are terrified. The predators are hiding and terrified. . .you feel it. . . its a very palpable atmosphere. . . But its a very exciting time for men now, because men have the opportunity, which is so beautiful, to rethink what it mean to be a man.”
She advised the audience to be patient—but proactive—about the change they are seeking, using her good humor to make a comparison. “You cant eat, eat, eat, and eat and then stop eating one day and expect to lose 20 kilos in one day. Trust me, I know. I have tried! You have to take responsibility for what you ate when you gained those 20 kilos. Its going to take awhile. Its hard, you have to be impatient and patient at the same time.”
Speaking about pay parity, Hayek suggested that she herself has not yet reached that holy grail.
“It is still a bit of a struggle because you can kill a movie if [a studio] is paying you what they are paying the guys,” said Hayek, explaining that parity can sink a projects budget. “We need to all start adjusting and work together. . .the actors have to work together. Its not just the producers [who need to make changes], its the actors. . . they have to say, O.K., Times Up [on my hefty paycheck], I had a good run.”
Though she is still trying to negotiate better for herself, Hayek said she is seeing positive shifts in the industry.
“I am also a producer, and this year I sold four television shows to many different outlets. . . I got a deal with Lionsgate, and we have five movies were developing, all about women. . . I cant find enough female writers and directors because the industry is going to need time to catch up.”
Take advantage of the opportunities that come your way, and keep fighting, Hayek urged the women in the audience.
“Now women have to step up and show men, Look what you were missing all this time.”
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