Could #MeToo lead to equal pay for actresses?

Salma Hyeck says these once-taboo topics are the talk of the town, leading to change both on- and off-screen

Actress Salma Hayek says the #MeToo movement has led to unprecedented progress in demanding respect for women in the workplace, but that change needs to be reflected in their paycheques.

When she started working in Hollywood, Hayek said talking about issues of representation of women and minorities was so frowned upon, it could hurt your reputation in the industry.

But now, she said, these once-taboo topics are the talk of the town, and it’s translating into change on- and off-screen.

“It’s a privilege to have had such a long career where you start in a situation where many dreams seem impossible personally, and also, for an industry to change in the direction,” Hayek said in an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival.

“And to be able to stay in it long enough to see the transformation, how it’s changed for the minorities, how it’s changing for women, it’s very exciting.”

Hayek said there are more strong roles for women than ever before, like the take-no-prisoners Wall Street warrior she plays in “The Hummingbird Project,” which premiered at the TIFF on Saturday, and women are also gaining power behind the scenes.

READ MORE: #MeToo at work – B.C. employers play a role in fixing culture

Hayek said she was initially drawn to ”The Hummingbird Project” because of her admiration of Montreal-raised director Kim Nguyen, but she was also excited by the opportunity to play a Latin American woman with power in the financial world, particularly one who is an immigrant.

“(Women) are in the centre of a lot of the stories that were never done before,” she said. “I think that definitely we are being able to occupy a different space with a different weight in the industry.”

Hayek credits much of this progress to the chorus of celebrities — herself among them — who have spoken out about the widespread mistreatment of women in Hollywood.

Last December, Hayek penned an op-ed in the New York Times alleging she was repeatedly sexually harassed by former film mogul Harvey Weinstein, which his lawyers responded to with a full denial.

Hayek said she thinks the next frontier will be stars using their spotlight to call for equal pay for equal work between men and women in all professions.

“The fact that the women in the film industry have been so outspoken about the respect towards women, it really has had a ripple effect like never before, in all the other industries,” she said.

“I think that if we make an example, also, in the equality of pay, because we are seen everywhere, you know. It just gets into everybody’s brain that this is what is correct to do.”

While she takes heart in the strides Hollywood has made towards equality, Hayek said she longs for the day when they won’t be so noteworthy.

“I kind of cannot wait for the moment when no one talks about it anymore, because it’s become normality.”

The Canadian Press

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