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At Elle Magazine’s Women In Entertainment event Monday evening, actress Jessica Chastain took her turn at the podium as an opportunity to call out hypocrisy in Hollywood.
“This is an industry rife with racism, sexism and homophobia,” she said, speaking to a room full of women including Laura Dern, Riley Keough and Aaron Sorkin. “It is so closely woven into the fabric of the business that we have become snowblind to the glaring injustices happening every day.”
She continued, “Oh we’re very quick to point the finger at others and address the issue with social action and fundraising. Yet there is a clear disconnect between how we practice what we preach in our industry.” Chastain pointed specifically to actors and actresses who have been told to stay closeted while the industry champions same-sex marriage, as well as the wage gap that exists between the sexes even as the industry itself supports equal pay legislation.
Additionally, Chastain addressed the issue of sexual harassment in the wake of the accusations mounting against Harvey Weinstein: “We rally against the presidential candidate who slants a narrative of his sexual assault as mere locker room talk, but at the same time we ignore the stories and warnings of sexual predators in our offices.”
Like several of her female peers throughout the evening, including Jennifer Lawrence and Reese Witherspoon, Chastain also detailed some of the negative incidents she’s experienced as a woman in the entertainment industry, be it dealing with unprofessional male colleagues who show up to work intoxicated or a male producer who spanked her as she passed in the hallway.
“I was taught that the safest way to get work and to keep getting work was to make myself as little as possible, to never say something that could be taken the wrong way or offend the wrong person. So for too long, I didn’t say anything,” she added, echoing the sentiment expressed by Jennifer Lawrence. She also supported the notion put forth by Kathleen Kennedy to create a commission to protect women in Hollywood.
Now, she notes, is a time to stand by those who have used their voices to address the mistreatment in the industry. “I’m so inspired by the women who are far braver than I am, who have come forward with their stories and risked everything to help others. What is important is that the voices of these women do not disappear. We must amplify them.”
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