‘It was a strategy by the lawyers, because we are the easiest to get discredited,’ the Mexican-born actress told Variety
Harvey Weinstein specifically chose to “discredit” sexual harassment allegations from women of color, Salma Hayek alleged Sunday during a talk at Cannes Film Festival.
“It was a strategy by the lawyers, because we are the easiest to get discredited,” the Mexican-born actress told Variety during a panel discussion. “It is a well-known fact that if you are a woman of color, people believe in you less and believe what you say less. So he went back, attacking the two women of color, in hopes that if he could discredit us … he could then maybe discredit the rest. So he went to the weakest links.”
If there hadn’t been so many accusers, Hayek added, “probably, people would’ve thought that we made that up.”
Hayek, whose December New York Times essay detailed the disgraced movie producer’s alleged pattern of harassment during the production of “Frida,” was one of dozens of women to accuse the movie mogul of sexual misconduct. “I hope that adding my voice to the chorus of those who are finally speaking out will shed light on why it is so difficult, and why so many of us have waited so long,” she wrote.
“Black Panther” star Lupita Nyong’o described her own alleged predatory encounters with Weinstein in a New York Times piece published in October.
While Weinstein and his team issued generic denials of many women’s accusations, Hayek’s and Nyong’o’s allegations were among the small handful they addressed by name. Regarding Hayek, the mogul’s spokesperson said, “all of the sexual allegations as portrayed by Salma are not accurate and others who witnessed the events have a different account of what transpired.”
As for Nyong’o, a rep told E! News that “Mr. Weinstein has a different recollection of the events, but believes Lupita is a brilliant actress and a major force for the industry … Last year, she sent a personal invitation to Mr. Weinstein to see her in her Broadway show Eclipsed.”
Prior to those denials, Weinstein addressed actress Ashley Judd’s sexual harassment accusation in October, telling Page Six she was “going through a tough time right now.” In subsequent months, his team also disputed Rose McGowan’s rape allegation and released a series of photos of Weinstein with accuser Uma Thurman meant to “demonstrate the strong relationship Mr. Weinstein and Ms. Thurman had had over the years.”
Minorities experience the highest levels of workplace harassment and discrimination, a 2009 study found, and 2016 research indicated that “sexual minorities and racial minorities experience greater negative impact following sexual assault.” Meanwhile, as National Women’s Law Center president and CEO Fatima Goss Graves pointed out to CNN last fall, “class and race and stature play into whether someone is believed.”
Hayek, a prominent leader in Hollywood’s Time’s Up movement, was among 82 women — symbolizing the mere 82 female-directed films to have screened at Cannes, compared to 1,866 films directed by men — who protested the festival’s gender inequality the previous day. But while progress on the gender pay gap front will require more “aggressive” action, Hayek said, she argued that change had already arrived. The actress, for instance, said she’d sold four television shows about women just this year.
“I can’t find enough female writers and directors,” Hayek said. “They’re all busy.”
© 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved