Salma Hayek spoke out about the gender inequality that plagues Hollywood at the Cannes Film Festival.


The Mexican-Lebanese actress says the system treats women like monkeys, getting rid of them when it realizes they are smart. “From the beginning I realized I wasn’t being treated equally as an actress,” she said during in a speech. “It is true that maybe if you are pretty you can get parts easier but it’s really violent to assume if you are pretty you are stupid. Hollywood’s particularly macho. If they realize that you are smart, their anger gets multiplied,” Hayek said. “They say ‘Get a monkey’ and then the monkey talks and they say, ‘Oh my God, maybe we are going to make money.’ Then one day they see the monkey doing algebra and they say, ‘Kill the monkey!’ It’s very violent, this natural force to try to suppress. That is why we have a problem with women behind the camera as directors and producers,” she continued.

Hayek condemned Hollywood for having fewer than 7% of movies made by women. “Hollywood is not going to change and give it to women because it is all guys,” she said, before adding in the extra obstacle that she is not American. “Imagine, I came not only as a woman to Hollywood but as a Mexican Arab. People would laugh at me for having the dream of being able to work in Hollywood,” the actress explained. “I was the only Mexican or Latino in the drama school except for Benicio Del Toro, who is Puerto Rican, so kind of American, and he’s a man. And nobody laughed at him. They were laughing at me in Mexico too for having the idea of trying to break into that market. For every single agent and every single studio, it was a laughable concept.”

Hayek continued her talk at the Women in Motion Prix awards dinner by speaking about economics. “They have not realized that women are a great economic power. These people don’t understand we are a huge audience. We have been neglected for so long they don’t know what we want to watch,” she began. “Today, almost 80 percent of the decision-makers of what movie or television show to watch are female. Women work, we make money and we all want to go out and have fun much more than before, and they have not capitalized on that.”

After praising Europe, particularly France, for its forward thinking industry, she finished up her speech with a simple fact: “In the 70 years of the Cannes film festival only one female has ever won the Palme d’Or,” she said, “and she only got half the Palme d’Or, not even a full one – she had to share it with a Chinese man.” Jane Campion shared the top prize in 1993 for The Piano with director Chen Kaige for his Farewell My Concubine.

Leave a comment

Read more about: