Amber Heard Opened Up About Revenge Porn & The Limits Hollywood Puts On Women

Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.
Actress and activist Amber Heard spoke freely about the limits put on women in Hollywood in an interview with her friend, TV host Amanda de Cadenet.
The actress, whose first film role was in 2004’s Friday Night Lights, had her breakout performance in 2008's Pineapple Express in which she portrayed Seth Rogen’s girlfriend. Since, she’s starred in movies likeMagic Mike XXL, Aquaman, and most recently Her Smell, alongside Elisabeth Moss.
Speaking with de Cadenet on her Spotify podcast, The Conversation With Amanda de Cadenet, Heard shared some of the hurdles she’s faced as an actress in Hollywood, even as a person considered a “leading lady” in the industry.
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“It has gotten worse, I would argue, since the ‘40s, our representations of women, of the female experience as well," Heard told de Cadenet on the podcast. "There is this binary system to which all women are applied. On one side there are physical attributes of any variety. You can be any shape, size, color, age, and that also affords you the ability to play any characteristics. You can be witty, funny, smart, bitchy, powerful, cruel...You can look any number of ways...but you can’t be sexy. Your sexual viability [is on] the other side of the spectrum.
“On the other side of the coin, you can be someone we find sexually attractive, and in that category, you can get a lot of splash, you can get a lot of play, you can get a lot of attention. You will work until maybe 30, 35, but it’s incredibly limiting because you can’t play anything else other than sexy. You are dependent. You are in a reactionary posture, and you are there to be a sexual bounce board to the male character you’re playing opposite," the actress continued.
Heard added that these roles are also typically limited to “white [women] between the ages of 18 to 30” as is. According to a 2017 study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, 74% of major female characters in the top 100 grossing films were white, 14% were Black, 6% were Latina, 4% were Asian, and 2% were of another race or ethnicity.
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“In the other category, you can be smart, witty, funny, kind, cruel, all these other number of things...but you’re a character,” Heard explained. “You are a best friend.”
Heard claimed that these roles aren’t even open to her at this point in her career.
“For every role for me, there are three for my male counterparts, and that is coming from a leading lady position, an ingenue role,” she said. “People see me as one thing, superficially, so I’m thrown into one category without any ability to express any of the other nuances of the female experience within my own capacity or the character’s capacity which I have an interest in playing.”
Heard is a vocal advocate for women. In the wake of her divorce from actor Johnny Depp, Heard went public about her history as an alleged survivor of abuse. In December 2018, she penned an op-ed for The Washington Post titled "I Spoke Up Against Sexual Violence — And Faced Our Culture's Wrath. This Has To Change." (Depp has vehemently denied any abuse allegations against Heard.)
Heard is currently working with Rise, an organization that seeks to implement a sexual assault survivors' bill of rights. She is working on helping people combat what is typically referred to as “revenge porn,” or the sharing of explicit photos without the subject’s permission. In May, she went to the U.S. Capitol to advocate on behalf of the SHIELD Act (Stopping Harmful Image Exploitation and Limiting Distribution), which would make revenge porn a federal crime and "target perpetrators who knowingly share sexually explicit or nude images of someone without their consent." Heard's photos were hacked in 2014 with the massive leak of celebrity nude photos.
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"Revenge porn’ [the term] is problematic for a number of reasons, even though it’s catchy," Heard told De Cadenet. "It implies that there was an action, for the which the victim was responsible. For you to seek revenge, it implies that somebody did something wrong. Also, it implies intent to harm, which is limiting for many, many reasons if we narrow the definition of what we call nonconsensual pornography, if we limit it to qualifiers like the intent to cause harm. When someone like me gets their photos hacked, and it goes online, that person doesn’t necessarily intend to cause me harm."
De Cadenet's Spotify exclusive podcast features conversations with women and non-binary individuals every Tuesday. Heard's episode of The Conversation With Amanda de Cadenet streams on July 16. Listen below.
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