Tackling Hollywood’s gender pay gap
SLUMDOG Millionaire star Freida Pinto is going behind the camera to tackle the gender gap in Hollywood.
SLUMDOG Millionaire star Freida Pinto is keen to address the gender pay gap in Hollywood. She talked to Hannah James about her latest project.
Since Slumdog Millionaire (2008), you’ve moved to LA and joined the debate about women in film, via your work with non-profit production company We Do It Together — how are you involved? I sit on the advisory board and I also work closely with the founder, [Italian filmmaker] Chiara Tilesi. We are planning a compilation of short stories and we will be launching it soon. But we want to work with not just female actors; we want male and female producers, male and female directors, males and females to sit on this board, including PR people and agents and editors. Ultimately, though, it will be stories about women, made by women, to entertain a whole audience — males, females, children, everybody.
It’s true, then, that women are under-represented in all areas of the industry?Certainly! And it’s time we do something [about it] — we’ve all been talking big talk for a very long time. So my purpose, my mission, was to find a way to actually go out and do it. When we found a wonderful team to come together, it started making sense that this could really happen.
Is it rewarding to have more control of the filmmaking process as a producer?Absolutely. I get to choose the stories I want to tell and act in them if I want to, or just produce. I like wearing that hat because it’s a natural progression — for me, at least — to want to have more of a say. As an actor you have a say on your character and working relationship with your director, but as a producer you have a say on the entire film, how it’s marketed and distributed, what it looks like and what story you’re going to tell. I really enjoy that privilege. The ultimate goal is hopefully one day to direct, and once I learn the behind-the-scenes [skills], I think I’ll be ready for that, too.
What kind of stories do you want to tell? They have to be inspirational; stories of triumph. I want people to feel uplifted at the end of our films. Why do people want to go to cinemas? It’s an escape, right? Also, a real-life story can be educational if you want it to be, but I think the most important part is it needs to be entertaining.
You’ve said before that you want to tell stories about India. It’s an under-represented landscape. Everybody has seen a Bollywood film or two, but there are still stories about brave, amazing women that need to be told. I’m going to use my platform to make them happen and open people’s minds to stories about women that aren’t conventional; stories they aren’t used to seeing.
You’re also returning to modelling, in Audemars Piguet’s new campaigns for its Diamond Fury and Diamond Punk watches. Yes — I love my Royal Oak watch, I wear it every day. It’s my baby! The thing is, I never liked modelling when I was modelling [before]. I thought it was something that sucked the life out of me. Now, I feel like I’m doing it as an actor. I am a person who needs to feel a purpose in order to do something.
Is there anybody’s career that particularly inspires you? Angelina Jolie’s. I think she is one heck of a brave woman and I would love to learn from her. Among male actors, Idris Elba. I think he’s super-charismatic. At the same time, it’s not just his charisma, he’s really got talent. Also, Robin Wright. I have all these role models.
Which of your humanitarian projects are you most proud of? I’m not the kind of person who is proud of something until something big happens, and in the humanitarian space change only happens incrementally. But the work that has been done on education in India has definitely been my biggest achievement — I’m glad I can lend my voice [to it].
Freida Pinto is an Audemars Piguet ambassador.