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Why Cate Blanchett is Keeping Women at the Centre Of Hollywood

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nly Cate Blanchett, on winning her Oscar for her lead in the critically acclaimed Blue Jasmine playing a delusional New York socialite, would use her moment of glory to make a stand against the old boys club that is the Hollywood film industry. Speaking out against those who ‘are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the centre are niche experiences’, Blanchett, clad in couture Armani, boldly declared that “They are not. Audiences want to see them, and in fact, they earn more money!” This is not the first time that the Australian actress, theatre director, and noted philanthropist, has used her substantial public platform to take a swipe at the issue of gender inequality. From gaining multiple accolades for captivating female roles in films such as Blue Jasmine and Carol, proving that successful films really don’t actually have to sideline women, to keeping up the good fight for women’s rights in the public eye; Blanchett is clearly a representative for every successful woman out there. For, as she so aptly rounded off her Oscar speech, “The world is round people!”

With a film career spanning nearly two decades, and boasting a rich variety of leading and supporting roles, the task of identifying the pinnacle role of her career is nigh on impossible. Having portrayed some of the most interesting and, quite frankly, badass, female roles in film history from Queen Elizabeth I (twice) to the formidable fantasy character Galadriel of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, it is undeniable that she is a master of her craft. Not that this has let her become complacent. “If it’s not an effort, if I’m not attempting to go somewhere new, then it's best I stay happily at home” she told The Daily Telegraph; an attitude reflected in the pedigree of roles that she has admirably displayed. And it is not just female roles that Cate Blanchett has taken on and dominated. Playing the men at their own game (and winning) she has famously portrayed the titular character of Bob Dylan in I’m Not There, alongside Heath Ledger, Ben Whitshaw, Christian Bale, Marcus Karl Franklin and Richard Gere to name a few. Playing an iconic man in a studio full of legendary men is something that only Cate Blanchett could pull off with such style - though when you’ve already been queen twice it’s likely a walk in the park by comparison.

Woman of the Week: Cate Blanchett

Her most recent role in Carol, the story of a forbidden love affair between a young female photographer and an older married woman during the 1950s, has been the part to spark the most controversy to date. Despite breathing life into a beautiful love story, resulting in her seventh Academy Award nomination, the actress faced unrelenting media attention for her portrayal of the film’s lesbian themes. Facing the tabloids’ fetishisation of the same sex relationship between the characters, however, Blanchett took a refreshingly brusque stance towards the onslaught. "The fact that we're talking about it means there are still barriers," she said in one interview. “When the time comes that we have a diversity of same-sex couples in film, then the problem is solved”. Or, as she unapologetically shut down a reporter who praised the relationship for feeling heterosexual, “It’s normal”.

On the topic of the gender pay gap in Hollywood, the actress is also known for taking no prisoners in her comments. “It just feels like the industry has the same conversation every year” she told GQ in an interview. Although she applauded the direction the conversation is taking on the topic, she also made the point that just talking about the issue is not enough. “We’ll be back here like Groundhog Day next year having the same f—king symposium. It just has to shift”. Advocating equal pay for equal work, Blanchett practises what she preaches by proving beyond a doubt that women of all ages deserve not only equal pay but also equal representation in Hollywood. Where the curse of age in the film industry seems to bring naught but doom and meagre supporting roles for female actors, at 47 she is only gaining more acclaim in wildly successful  movies with the female experience at the front and centre; Blue Jasmine, Carol and Cinderella to name but a few.  Increasingly films that pass the Bechedel Test, where a film is required to feature two female characters having a conversation about something other than a man, are no longer novelties, but actually turn a greater profit at the box office than those that don’t. Blanchett simply explained this phenomenon to Vogue Australia. “Women don't stop consuming cultural product once they stop menstruating” she told the publication; a seemingly obvious statement, but one that film makers often seem to forget nonetheless. And with Cate raking in the awards and box office numbers they may now choose to remember it more often.

Woman of the Week: Cate Blanchett

Shop the look: Campbell Black Suede Heels by Lucy Choi | Silk Blouse by Hugo Boss | Light Double Cashmere Kido Coat by Joseph | Halo Pearl Earrings Grey by Ora PearlsStructural Plisse Bag by Linda Sieto

Aside from being a celebrated actress and unapologetic feminist, Blanchett is also a style icon. With an eternal spot cemented on Giorgio Armani’s best-dressed list, the actress dominates every red carpet that she walks with her distinctive crisp, gracefully elegant style. While she can also pull off some more kooky couture numbers, Blanchett for the main rocks a classic monochrome look with bold clean cut lines that embodies a sense of grace, success and sophistication. All key qualities that any successful woman wishes to emulate, it is clear that Cate Blanchett is a true icon for the business woman of today. No wonder Armani is obsessed.

Career nuggets:

On Failure: “If you know you are going to fail, then fail gloriously…You learn a lot from your mistakes. You have to take risks and make mistakes. It’s terrifying, but it’s the only way you will learn and improve.”

On team work: “If you only exercise your soloist muscles, the other muscles quickly atrophy.”

On staying hungry: “If I had my way, if I was lucky enough, if I could be on the brink my entire life — that great sense of expectation and excitement without the disappointment — that would be the perfect state.”

On success: “Being successful, as a CEO, actress, mother or whatever, doesn’t mean one is not feminine; fulfilment is surely part of being female.”

Words by Scarlett White

Woman of the Week

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