by Hailey Zheng, Hana Ulep, and Bella Macioce
The acting world is home to countless incredible men and women who excel in the art of acting. It also houses to some of the strongest, influential and empowering women of this decade. From Emma Watson to Amandla Stenberg, there are many strong female voices in the acting industry. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival is no exception, hosting many wonderful actresses on its red carpet. Saturday night, February 6th 2016, the Virtuoso Award took place at the Arlington Theater, honoring several esteemed actors for their recent film accomplishments. Three of our Condor Press staff had the opportunity to interview a few of these incredible women.
Among these women was Lynn Cohen. An actress since she was 50 in 1987, and just recently starred in a film, The Pickle Recipe, at current age 82. When asked, Cohen stated that she began acting because she “didn’t know how to do anything else.” She then went on to say that as a child, the only time when she wasn’t shy was when she could be somebody else. She says that young, strong girls give her the inspiration to continue acting. Her views on social equality shone through in the interview. She said that “we [women] have to fight it [sexism]. I want a chance to do whatever roles I want.” She also opened up on her views on ageism, and ridiculed those who have told her what she was too old to do, like wear a wetsuit, climb a mountain or have a boyfriend. “Are you kidding me?…What? Are you out of your mind?!” she passionately expressed as a response to people telling her what she was unable to do. Lastly, she gave sound advice for young actors and actresses, insisting that it was something that chooses you, instead of the other way around. “If you have to do it, then you do it. And if no one helps you, you have to help yourself. And each other,” she simply stated near the end of the interview. There is no doubt that nothing has stopped this phenomenal woman and actress, and that nothing ever will.
Next is Alicia Vikander. She is a Swedish actress who starred in The Danish Girl and Ex Machina. She has taken part in many roles in her acting career, all very diverse and displaying a different aspect to her. We asked her about this diversity of characters, and if she had played any whose views she disagreed with. She responded, “They are the most interesting to play. It’s interesting because when you read about them and their opinions, what they do is usually not the right thing. But as an actor, you have to try to somehow emotionally understand why someone would do certain things or not.” Vikander is another example of a strong, inspiring woman in the acting industry. On the subject of sexism, she says, “I think every woman would be agreeing [that they face sexism] in our industry. I have found that there’s just not enough female roles to begin with…but the good thing is that over the last few years I feel things have changed [for the better].” When asked what advice she would give young girls in regards to fighting sexism in the acting industry, she responded, “I think just to talk about it. If the subject is brought up, and as long as you are not ignorant to bring it up, people will hopefully cause a small change… just to see young girls who are now headlining the big franchise movies it shows that they are just as commercial as all the rest.”
There were several more inspiring women attending the SBIFF Virtuosos Award Red Carpet, and this article by no means covers them all. The acting world is a world where there is a lot of opportunity for women to be treated unequally, but there is just as much opportunity for wonderful women to fight against that inequality. The Condor Press staff members who were lucky enough to attend and talk and connect with these women are extremely grateful to have had lots of fun on the red carpet. It was an incredible opportunity for these young girls to hear such strong, inspirational women speak.