Cate Blanchett & Kerry Washington’s Inspiring Women In Film Speeches

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It was a who’s who of the film industry at the Women in Film’s Crystal + Lucy Awards held in Los Angeles recently. And we don’t just mean who’s who of the female category, because the majority of these women are house hold names regardless of their gender. And that’s what Hollywood needs to catch on to!

Both Cate Blanchett and Kerry Washington were recipients of awards, and used the opportunity to talk about why women in film is a vital topic and why our gender needs to be acknowledged more.

Cate has been very outspoken about her view on women in Hollywood, and why the industry needs to wake up to the fact female stories aren’t just a novelty. She expressed her opinions loud and clear in her Academy Awards acceptance speech, as well as at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

She is certainly using her celebrity currency for a good cause! This time around she pointed out how small the budgets for most female films are, yet they bring in an extraordinary amount at the box office.

“Often I find with female-lead films, that the budgets are smaller and the resulting box office is extraordinary,” she says. “But it would be great if there were more films led by women that had that initial investment, because people want to see stories with women at the center.”

She went on to say that risk-taking is an important part of how women are going to step up and be seen more in the film industry across the board.

“In my experience when risks are taken, that’s when the true rewards are reaped. I think we are incrementally and undeniably claiming the success space, but I wonder if we’re still understandably unsure of the success space and the fear that one failure — be it box office, critical, or creative — could end it, for me, as a woman in film.”

“We, in relation to our male counterparts, are not trusted with those big budgets, those large, high-powered casts, those non niche stories — the action movies, the superheroes. There’s a fear that we can’t fail when these opportunities come our way. There are many massive box office — let’s face it — f—ups, blunders that seem completely surmountable and we can justify them when a male counterpart is helming. But when a similar misstep is made by a female…it’s still feared to be a career-killer.”

“I believe that a creative career is only as good as the risks that you take with it.”

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Kerry Washington was the recipient of the Lucy Award, and was introduced by fellow female TV mogul Shonda Rhimes, creator of her hit TV show ‘Scandal’.

“Kerry Washington is a trailblazer because she has fearlessly, and with great grace and style, dealt with and challenged the media and the world’s attempt to label and define her and who she should be based on being the first black woman to lead a network drama in 40 years,” said Shonda.

When she stepped up to accept the award, she started out her speech talking about how she was asked to give a TED Talk, but declined because she felt she “wasn’t ready”. Pat Mitchell who was the woman who asked her (who also runs the Paley Center for Media and PBS) said to Kerry that no man she asks to speak at a TED Event ever declines, it is only women. That struck a chord with her, and she too, like Cate Blanchett, spoke about the need for more women to take risks, despite what they are feeling.

“I work for a woman, Shonda Rimes…who because of her courage to step into her light, and step up, and own her voice, has provided an opportunity for so many other women to soar, in front of and behind the camera. That’s what happens when we step up for ourselves — we create opportunity, whether it’s because we inspire other people or we employ other people or both,” she said.

Pat Mitchell said to her after Kerry declined the TED Talk offer: “This is so unfortunate, this is so wrong, women have to feel comfortable speaking out and stepping up, and standing in their light, and owning their voice.”

That’s when Kerry realized standing up wasn’t just about her, but about how she was going to inspire generations of women behind her to do the same.

“This award is named after Lucille Ball, an extraordinary woman in television, because she was an actor, a comedian, a director, a producer, a studio owner. It’s an award for excellence, and so I’m going to take it home, and put it on my shelf as a reminder of what I should be striving for, which is excellence. And as a reminder that I have to continue to step up.”

“I need to not be afraid, and we each need to not be afraid of taking those risks, that Cate [Blanchett] talked about. We need to be willing to be uncomfortable, to be flawed, to be imperfect, to own our voice, to step into our light, so that we can continue to inspire other people and employ other people, and make room for more and more voices and presence.”

Other award recipients on the night included actress and producer Eva Longoria, and ‘Frozen’ director Jennifer Lee who said because animation films reaches younger generations first, it is vital that more female characters are written.

“These women are not just making sure the films rock because they’re so talented in their own right, but they’re making sure we’re sending to the world very strong, relatable , dynamic, messy, flawed, good, real, female characters.”

Here’s to all the women in film, both in front of the camera and behind, who continue to be badasses at what they do, break down barriers, and lead the way for future generations of women who are going to dominate Hollywood one day!

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