Salma Hayek is solidifying her place on the future Mount Rushmore of Women in Hollywood who fought for equality. The actress has become such a staunch voice on the topic of gender equality, particularly in the film business, that she is frequently mentioned in the same breath as Meryl Streep, and usually followed closely by Amy Schumer.
Elle Magazine hosted the “Women in Hollywood” event on Monday. Big names at the event included Hayek, Streep, and Schumer, as well as Ava DuVernay, Carey Mulligan, Gena Rowlands, Alicia Vikander, Kate Winslet and Dakota Johnson.
Salma Hayek told the attendees about her struggle to get work around the Hollywood boys’ club when she was trying to make the film Frida.
“I was told, ‘There are no leading parts for Mexicans in this town and especially for Mexican women.’ And they were right,” said Hayek.
Of course, Hayek did manage to get Frida to screen. It took eight years, but in the end she was nominated for six Oscars thanks to that film.
"It's so important to feel excited about yourself. Happiness and beauty live inside you and are just trying their best." -Salma Hayek
— Hearted Quotes (@BQuotesOfHeart) October 20, 2015
Salma Hayek also is passionate about opposing the ridiculous notion that women in Hollywood have some expiration date stamped on them, beyond which they are not useful.
“It takes a generation of women that will not accept a reality that is f—ed up and unfair to get angry and take adversity and transform it into power, to make a change,” Hayek said. “We are the generation that said, ‘We’re not going away at 30. They cannot ignore us anymore.”
Hayek noted that things are starting to change, thanks to the women in that room. No longer are women in Hollywood being mainly relegated to doing romantic comedies and propping up male leads.
“In the 20 years I have been an activist for women. I can smell the airs of change. Especially in this industry for the first time.” Hayek said. “These romantic comedies are not working anymore. Why? We changed!”
Alfred Molina, who costarred with Salma Hayek in Frida, told Elle Magazine of his friend, “I’ve said that if Salma had been white and male, she would have been bigger than Harvey Weinstein. I still believe that. Salma is a great businesswoman; she’s creative in a way that takes people by surprise.”
Hayek herself followed that up by saying, “I ended up producing because I did not like myself complaining, complaining, complaining about the system. I said to myself, ‘You know what? I’m not going to whine about anything that I didn’t make any effort to change.’ ”
— Nina Dobrev (@ninadobrev) October 20, 2015