Throughout the past year, as the lid on Hollywood’s longtime history of sexism and sexual misconduct popped off—finally to real consequences—one actress who’s been especially vocal is Jessica Chastain. Chastain not only defended notorious film executive Harvey Weinstein’s many accusers—who allege that the film mogul is guilty of sexual assault and sexual misconduct—she has spoken out against Hollywood’s female stereotypes. Last night, Chastain did so once again, this time at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
In her acceptance speech for the Spotlight Award, due in part to her performance in Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut Molly’s Game, Chastain referenced Hollywood’s systematic abuse and said that, moving forward, things will be different. “Before I leave you guys tonight, I want to acknowledge what a difficult year 2017 has been for all of us,” she said. “Major change is coming. Change is good. Change is needed. We are all in this together. Each one of us is diminished by flawed systems. Through our joint efforts, we will make things better. We must make things better. We must be better—and we will.”
Chastain also shouted out some of the men she’s worked with who are among the “good” ones, like John Madden, Ralph Fiennes, Al Pacino, Tate Taylor, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, Terrence Malick, and Guillermo Del Toro. “We have sadly heard a lot about the bad boys of Hollywood,” she said. “But I would like to send some deserved love to a few of the good guys with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working.”
Aside from being a vocal advocate for women in Hollywood, Chastain has also taken action on her own to help make the industry a more inclusive place, specifically with her production company, Freckle Films. “We’re working to develop projects for women about women and hire more female writers and directors, and also minorities who haven’t had the opportunity to tell their stories,” she told W last year. “That’s very important to me. Also, I try to work with a female filmmaker every year. This year I’m taking a break from acting a little bit, so I might only do one film. But if that’s the case, because it is a big passion of mine, I might try to do a short film with a female filmmaker that is looking for experience. So if they don’t have the time for a feature I’ll do something like that. It is very important for me to take all the gifts that I’ve been given, because I’ve been given a lot of attention very fast, and spread the wealth a little bit, and now maybe point everyone in a direction of incredible female filmmakers or writers that I feel should be getting more work.”