Salma Hayek says change is happening in Hollywood, but male actors should take pay cuts

The protest was striking not in how many women stood on the red carpet but in how few.

Halfway up the stairs at the Palais des Festivals at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday stood 82 women, representing the 82 female directors who have climbed those same stairs since the first year the festival was held, 1946. As they stood there, arms linked, the group of women fit comfortably on the red carpet, surrounded by empty stairs.

Among the 82 women standing in protest was the actress, producer and director Salma Hayek Pinault, a leading voice in the #MeToo and Times Up movements and among the dozens of women who have accused Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. Hayek gave a wide-ranging interview with reporters on Sunday, covering changes in the movie industry, the gender pay gap and the Weinstein scandal.

Hayek urged women to shift their focus from advocacy to action. “Change has already happened” in Hollywood, Hayek said, so the time has come for women in the industry to build on that momentum through their film work. Now is the time for female film makers to show audiences and industry leaders, “look what you were missing all this time,” she said.

Just this year, the 51-year-old Mexican-born actor has sold four television shows about women to different outlets. She is developing five movies, and they are all about women, she said. “I can’t find enough female writers and directors,” Hayek said. “They’re all busy.”

In December, Hayek joined the list of more than 40 women who came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against Weinstein. She detailed her story in a New York Times commentary, describing how he allegedly propositioned her over and over again.

“For years, he was my monster,” Hayek wrote. She accused him of repeatedly demanding messages and sex, and said “I don’t think he hated anything more than the word ‘no.’”

While he was producing the 2002 film “Frida,” in which Hayek starred, Weinstein insisted that she add an unscripted sex scene with another woman, complete with full-frontal nudity. Hayek wrote that she felt complying was the only way she would get the movie made, and she worried about disappointing all of the “talented people” she had persuaded to join her dream project.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Hayek argued that Weinstein singled out Nyong’o and herself because they are women of color, while most of the accusers were not.

“It was a strategy by the lawyers, because we are the easiest to get discredited,” Hayek said. “It is a well-known fact, if you are a woman of color, people believe what you say less. So he went attacking the two women of color, in hopes that if he could discredit us, he could then maybe discredit the rest.”

Weinstein also responded by name to Ashley Judd, in an interview with the New York Post in early October. Later, in January and February, his legal and public relations team also later wrote lengthy statements in response to allegations from Rose McGowan and Uma Thuman.

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Salma Hayek says change is happening in Hollywood, but male actors should take pay cuts

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