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Cate Blanchett and Kerry Washington Discuss the Difficulty of Risk-Taking As Women in Hollywood

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by Inkoo Kang
June 13, 2014 11:25 AM
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Shonda Rhimes (L) and Kerry Washington (R)
Shonda Rhimes (L) and Kerry Washington (R)

Cate Blanchett and Kerry Washington received the two highest honors at Women in Film's Crystal + Lucy Awards ceremony this past Wednesday, and both actresses used their time at the podium to say some fascinating, inspiring, and honest things about where female creators and performers stand in Hollywood. 

Since the Oscars, Blanchett has been so consistently vocal about the need for more movies by and about women that she might be angling for a mid-life career change as a Women and Hollywood blogger. Upon receiving the Crystal Award for Excellence in Film, the two-time Oscar winner talked about the limitations actresses and female filmmakers still face: 

"What about the missteps and the failures and the fuck-ups? These are the side effects of risk-taking, and in my experience -- my small experience -- when risks are taken, that's when the true rewards are reaped. I think we are incrementally and undeniably claiming the success space, but I wonder if we're still understandably unsure of the success space and the fear that one failure -- be it box office, critical, or creative -- could end it, for me, as a woman in film." 

"We, in relation to our male counterparts, are not trusted with those big budgets, those large, high-powered casts, those non-niche stories -- the action movies, the superheroes. There's a fear that we can't fail when these opportunities come our way. There are many massive box office -- let's face it -- fuck-ups, blunders that seem completely surmountable, and we can justify them when a male counterpart is helming. But when a similar misstep is made by a female... it's still feared to be a career-killer."

Whereas Blanchett focused on the tightrope-walking act many women in the industry are forced into, Kerry Washington, who received the Lucy Award for Excellence in Television, took a different tack by discussing the fear many women have of speaking out -- and how those who do, like Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes, can create opportunities for other women: 

"We as women put ourselves in this situation of feeling like we can't take a risk. Like, in order to step out there, we have to be perfect, because we're scared that if we don't say the right thing or do the right thing, it will reflect poorly on ourselves and on our community -- whether that community be women, people of color, or both. So, sometimes, we don't step out there."

"We need to not be afraid of taking those risks that Cate [Blanchett] talked about. We need to be willing to be uncomfortable, to be flawed, to be imperfect, to own our voice, to step into our light so that we can continue to inspire other people and employ other people and make room for more and more voices."

"I work for a woman, Shonda Rhimes, who, because of her courage to step into her light and step up and own her voice, has provided an opportunity for so many other women to soar in front of and behind the camera. When we step up for ourselves, we create opportunity, whether it's because we inspire other people or because we employ other people -- or both."

Read Washington's speech in its entirety

Frozen director Jennifer Lee was also honored for her achievements, as were Rose Byrne and Eva Longoria for their filmography and humanitarian efforts, respectively. 

[via EW]

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