Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren has just been given the Sherry Lansing leadership award at a breakfast ceremony, organised by The Hollywood Reporter magazine, to honour the Women in Entertainment Power 100.
I’d highly recommend you watch the video of her acceptance speech, which is just marvellous. Not only does she recognise how much women have achieved in recent years, she also points out the continuing disparities in the industry and takes particular issue that Hollywood “continues to worship at the altar of the 18 to 25-year-old male and his penis.”
She stresses how affirming it was to her ambitions that her parents believed a woman could do anything, notes the importance of mentoring women and the necessity of vital roles for women on television and film.
She is also interviewed in the magazine, and says this about the focus upon ‘how good she looks for her age’:
We have to let go of this crap. It creates even more pressure on women, and I certainly don’t want to be a part of that. I’m not beautiful; I clean up nice. Why don’t we talk about the fact, for example, that I just did Arthur, and the cinematographer was a woman, the film operator was a woman, the whole camera team were women? That’s where we should be putting our attention. The fact that I look good at the age I am is bloody irrelevant.
It’s brilliant to hear a smart, successful woman highlight these issues. There is a tendency among people who have made it to stay quiet on these matters and not rock the boat, or worse claim the disparities don’t exist because they are proof all is equal. I can see signs of change in the film industry but it is a slow thaw. Women need to continue to stand up and voice the issues that need to be addressed and encourage other women in the industry.
A really positive sign from the publishing world is The 100 Notable Books of 2010 by The New York Times. It finally contains a strong representation of women writers, which indicates that venerable newspaper has been taking note of recent criticisms of its review policies.