May 23, 2017
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Salma Hayek tears up explaining her daughter's favorite singer is Ariana Grande

May 23, 2017

Actress Salma Hayek, speaking at the Women in Motion talks, was almost in tears when discussing the Manchester attacks, as her daughter's favorite singer is Ariana Grande."She (Grande) is her favorite singer. If this concert had been here she would have been here – she would go with her friends and their mothers.

Salma Hayek in Cannes

"This is one reason I have not slept. So do I have a message? No, I haven't processed it. I am not going to fake something. I am opinionated when I know what I am talking about. But I don't know what happened there," said Hayek in discussion in the Majestic Hotel.

The festival today held a minute of silence at 3PM as a mark of respect to the tragic victims in Manchester.

"I'm not sure what to feel today, and I'm terrified and I don't know what to say to my daughter. In a way... I feel like the UK was invaded a little," said the Mexican actress.

Her conversation was part of a series called Women in Motion sponsored by Kering. Its guest list includes Robin Wright, Isabelle Huppert and Diane Kruger. Hayek also happens to be the wife of Kering CEO and owner Francois Henri Pinault, with whom she has a daughter Valentina.

Figures for women's empowerment in film still make for depressing reading, albeit less sadly in France than other European countries. A Women in Motion study claims that women directed 22.3% of French films in the first five years of this decade; in Britain and Italy, by contrast the comparable figures were 11.5% and 10.2%.

And even though Cannes is celebrating its 70th anniversary, only one woman filmmaker to date – Jane Campion in 1993 with The Pianist – has won the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or.

"Women have the same qualifications and we make less money. But it's very important that we are at least talking about it. When I first started working I didn't know anything about women's rights.... But as a woman who was a Mexican Arab, I remember that people would laugh at me at acting school. Except for Benicio del Toro – who is from Porto Rico - so some sort of American," said Hayek whose father's family immigrated to Mexico from Lebanon.

"Every single agent would see it (being a Mexican Arab) as a laughable concept... It was particularly macho. It's almost like someone saying they should hire a monkey grinder. But when they hire the monkey and it turns out it talks. And they said, 'Oh my God it is monkey who talks and now it wants to be paid properly!'"

"Why is that? I think it is ignorance. I started this conversation a couple of years ago. Part of it is simple that they had not realized economic power. Now women are independent and we make money and we want to go out and have fun. We are the greatest consumers – for everything," said Hayek, speaking with directors Kaouther Ben Hania and Costa Gravas.

Kering is one of the sponsors this year of Cannes, via  a two-year deal with Unifrance, the agency supporting French films around the world. And the luxury group – which owns Gucci, YSL, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen, among other fashion houses – has been very active in the struggle against sexual violence.

"I was working in Latin America – and we wanted to educate men to be tolerant.  Well, nobody was more successful than prostitutes to train men. And they succeeded in doing that – except for the policeman who raped them," she commented.

Internally, she said that Kering was also working internationally to identify domestic violence. "It's a lot more common than you think. We have learned how to identify it and discuss it confidentially. And to create a support system and also how to get out of it. And we encourage our workers to do that," she added.

She claimed that Stella McCartney' white ribbon campaign to highlight this issue had already reached more than one billion people digitally.

Some 125,000 brooches were distributed to over 800 boutiques, across 41 countries, and given to customers of Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Brioni, Stella McCartney, Boucheron, Dodo, Pomellato and Queelin.

Turning to film, and the controversy that two Netflix movies are in competition despite not having been shown first in a movie theatre, she responded, "I think the theatrical release is still very important. Part of the magic of film is the connection with the cinema. With a movie house, it is more respectful, in a dark room where everything stops. There is something romantic and beautiful in a sense of community and that is very important for humanity. But you cannot ignore technology. I can see both points – so you cannot become dated. But we have to fight somehow so we keep this experience," she said.

Questioned from the audience who had inspired her, she caused a great deal of mirth by responding: "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory! There is a sea of chocolate, and everything is possible. And I thought how to experience that? Maybe by being an actress?"


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