Jessica Chastain Says Hollywood Doesn't Practice What It Preaches

Photo: Ki Price/Getty Images
An Oscar-winning actress has a major criticism of Hollywood — and it's dead-on.
Speaking at Elle Magazine's Women in Hollywood event on Monday night, Jessica Chastain gave a passionate speech about sexism in the entertainment industry. The event came in the wake of a New York Times report titled "Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers For Decades," and the ensuing allegations from dozens of Hollywood women, including Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, who claimed the movie mogul was inappropriate with them as well.
Chastain did not shy away from confronting the sexual harassment scandal, but while she criticized the former Weinstein Company founder, she also said that Hollywood at large has a problem with hypocrisy.
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Per The Hollywood Reporter, Chastain called out the industry for supporting a dangerous culture.
"This is an industry rife with racism, sexism, and homophobia...It is so closely woven into the fabric of the business that we have become snowblind to the glaring injustices happening every day."
She added that while Hollywood is ready to address issues, the industry still has major problems beneath the surface.
"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," she said, specifically citing how many gay actors are told to stay in the closet to protect their career.
She added that she is so grateful to the women who have stepped forward because, for a long time, she felt she could not.
"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."
Chastain's comment about feeling powerless in the industry echoes the words of fellow stars like Jennifer Lawrence, who opened up in a Lenny Letter about wanting to be "likeable" and agreeable rather than fighting for the money she deserved on certain projects. Grey's Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff, in a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, also said she had a difficult time standing up for herself when faced with sexually inappropriate comments from one of her bosses in the early days of her career.
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Many other stars, such as Reese Witherspoon, admitted they were sexually assaulted but were too afraid to come forward because it would mean going up against a powerful man.
Now, women are standing up — and it's encouraging others who were once too afraid to speak their truth to get candid about their experiences. Hopefully the voices of many will create a palpable change in Hollywood.
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