At The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Women in Entertainment breakfast this year, Helen Mirren gave both an inspirational and eloquent speech when receiving the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award.
I’ll let you take a look for yourself before sharing my favorite parts.
Mirren on Hollywood:
“I certainly could complain about the fact that virtually every drama made for film, stage, or television has 20 male characters to maybe the 1, 2, or if you’re lucky 3 female characters.”
“I resent having witnessed in my life the survival of some very mediocre male actors and the professional demise of some very brilliant female ones.”
“…with all due respect to you many brilliant and successful women in this room – executive producers, writers, directors – really not too much has changed in the canon of Hollywood filmmaking that continues to worship at the altar of the 18 to 25-year-old male and his penis. Quite small, I always think.”
Mirren on Women and Gender Stereotypes:
“Unappreciated, underused and ill-used. Undervalued, undernourished, uneducated, unsung. What is happening to that incredible global resource called women – the only future of the human race?”
“If you live long enough, like I have, you live to see so many of these so-called scientific truths about gender and race to be shown up for the load of old rubbish they were in the first place. However, it doesn’t stop people from continuing to spew them out.”
Mirren on Girls and Ambition:
“Aren’t you sick of being told what you can and can’t do?”
“Both my mother and my father believed that a girl could do anything, and she had the right to try for it.”
Mirren on the Importance of Mentoring:
“I so applaud the mentors among you. Nothing is more important than to encourage ambition and belief in yourself, and to be a role model for those without my kind of parents.”
“…the fact that so many of you take mentoring girls so seriously that is a great step toward the ultimate recognition of the value of women and the releasing of all that power and energy and intellect.”
Mirren on the Media’s Obsession with Looks:
In addition to this great speech, Mirren was also interviewed by The Holloywood Reporter where she takes on the media’s obsession with looks.
When asked “You’ve won fans as a role model for having sex appeal in your 60s. How does that make you feel?” Mirren answered with this:
“A bit cross, actually. 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.”
Bloody irrelevant indeed!
Bravo Mirren! What a refreshingly honest take on Hollywood (and many other things for that matter) – something so few public people share in such a public forum. I only wish this was a speech that was given at an award show with both male and female actors, but maybe someday now it will.
YouTube screen shot of video.