It’s been a long and important year of Hollywood actresses (and occasionally actors) speaking out about both the gender pay gap and the lack of diversity within their industry. In the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter, eight talented women were interviewed about pay equity, ageism, and sexism in the industry, subjects about which Helen Mirren, for one, thinks we should “stop being polite.” She continued, “If I ever had children, which I don’t, the first thing I’d teach a girl of mine is the words ‘f— off.’”
The magazine chooses their cover subjects for the special issue every year based on who they think are likely to be Oscar contenders. Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Jane Fonda, Carey Mulligan, Brie Larson, Helen Mirren, and Charlotte Rampling were featured as 2015’s “Great Eight.”
The women discussed Lawrence’s wage-gap essay, with Lawrence noting that the pay problem impacts women over a certain age as well: “Men certainly have a longer shelf life. Men can play the sexy lead for 20 years longer than we can.” Blanchett points out that unequal pay for equal work is “lazy thinking across all industries. We’re at the pointy and probably the most public end, but in what industry do women receive equal pay for equal work?”
And while these actresses may be advocating for complexity in the roles they play, all is not perfect in Hollywood just yet: The Hollywood Reporter cover features only white actresses, a fact that was dutifully acknowledged by executive editor Stephen Galloway in a letter accompanying the story. Galloway wrote that this was not an oversight, but that because of racism within the industry there is a lack of diverse candidates available for the cover. “Why Every Actress on The Hollywood Reporter Roundtable Cover Is White” asserts that the editors “discovered precisely ZERO actresses of color in the Oscar conversation — at least in the weeks starting early September when the roundtables are put together.” Galloway maintained that awards season is what dictates who appears in these roundtables on a yearly basis.
“If there were far more minority men and women to choose from, this sort of hand-wringing would never exist. And it’s about time it changes.” One thing the cover had going for it, though: The women ranged in age from 25 to 77, so hooray for acknowledging that actresses don’t just shrivel up and disappear after they turn 30.