It's been nearly a week since the American Civil Liberties Union's decision to ask federal and state organizations to investigate the lack of female directors in film and TV, and the important, and long overdue, conversation is only just getting started.
Today (May 16) at the Cannes Film Festival, Variety partnered with UN Women in support of their HeForShe campaign to host the landmark "Women in Motion" panel on gender equality in Hollywood. Moderated by Variety editor in chief Claudia Eller, the discussion included actresses Salma Hayek and Parker Posey, Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and "Carol" producers Christine Vachon and Elizabeth Karlsen, whose lesbian drama, starring Cate Blanchett, will premiere at the festival on Sunday.
So far, the investigation into the treatment of female directors in Hollywood have been seen as a necessary step for change in the industry, but there's been little discussion on how this will affect actors. The panel opened with a few sobering statistics, including the fact that only 4.6 percent of studio films in 2014 were directed by women -- and not one Oscar best picture nominee this year featured a female protagonist. According to Hayek, it's time for studio execs to wake up.
Salma Hayek: "'Fifty Shades of Grey,' that made a lot of money. It still goes unnoticed." #HeForShe— Ramin Setoodeh (@RaminSetoodeh) May 16, 2015
Posey said women's roles in Hollywood today lack depth and substance.
Parker Posey: "I watch a lot of TCM, and those women from the '40s, there’s so much wit. It’s so rare I see that in movies now." #HeForShe— Ramin Setoodeh (@RaminSetoodeh) May 16, 2015
"Carol" producer Vachon remarked that she's so used to being patronized in Hollywood, it doesn't even bother her anymore.
Meanwhile, Hayek also opened up about her personal experiences with studios, directors and even her fellow actors. In a particularly harrowing anecdote, Hayek said one studio executive told her she could have been the biggest star in the America, but she was "born in the wrong country."
Salma Hayek: "I’ve been on movies where the director wanted me, but the leading man didn’t approve me and I got kicked out." #HeForShe— Ramin Setoodeh (@RaminSetoodeh) May 16, 2015
Salma Hayek: "Our pay can never go up. We never get the opportunity to show what we can bring as revenue into the system." #HeForShe— Ramin Setoodeh (@RaminSetoodeh) May 16, 2015
As sobering as these accounts are, we think Hollywood's days of being a boys' club are numbered.