Gemma Chan Thinks More Women Should Be Behind the Camera
"There are still so many barriers to entry into the film industry."
Six: This is the number of female directors debuting films in Competition at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival — and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, a record high. But it's less impressive when you compare it to the 13 other films debuting in Competition, all of which are directed by men, and indicative of how far the film industry has to go in creating opportunities for people of color and women.
To help close this gap, L'Oréal Paris announced the return of its Lights on Women Award program to help highlight female filmmakers — and with it, enlisting Gemma Chan for help. "I'm so proud to support the Lights on Women Award," the actor tells InStyle over Zoom. "It's all about increasing opportunity and increasing visibility for female filmmakers."
For a third time, this year's Lights on Women Award is honoring a rising female filmmaker in the Short Films competition — not only to shine the spotlight on an up-and-coming director, but also to highlight the lack of opportunity available to women in film.
Chan, who's served as a L'Oréal Paris ambassador for three years and counting, has long been an advocate for women's rights. Below, she talks to InStyle about what more can be done to create opportunities for women in the industry, her go-to beauty routine at Cannes, and the one beauty trend she wishes would come back.
Related: How Gemma Chan Stays Centered During Tumultuous Times
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
InStyle: The Lights on Women Award is a great step forward in creating equal opportunity for women in the film industry. What else can be down to highlight female creators in this space?
Gemma Chan: We still need to address some of the structural and systemic issues within the industry. Including more women and more people of color in decision-making positions is crucial. It's also about creating the pipeline of talent that comes through. Sadly, there are still so many barriers to entry into the film industry, particularly if you're from a background that's not wealthy.
Across the board, it's harder and harder for people to access and to be able to support themselves — particularly at the beginning of your career when you are not going to be earning very much. So that's a real concern of mine. I think a lot more can still be done there.
With all that in mind, what advice do you have for anyone trying to break into the film industry?
If you are passionate about something, try it and don't take a no or the first knock-back as the final say. Find your people, and those that you, creatively, love to work with. That can take a while, but know that you have a voice — and just keep going.
Switching to beauty: How does your skin-care prep for Cannes Film Festival differ from your usual beauty routine?
It does shift a little bit. I always end up coming to the festival and having great aspirations to get a lot of sleep. Then, you get here sleep-deprived and jet-lagged. So the crucial things for me are all about prepping the skin. That includes anything cryotherapy-related and anything to de-puff. I have all the tools and gadgets: the roller that I keep in the fridge, the ice globes, a vibrating device for my eye area, and a cooling face mask as well. I also always bring my own tea because no one does tea like the English.
Related: Gemma Chan's Beauty Routine Includes an "Eyebrator," and We're Listening
What about your makeup?
Cannes is so glamorous and iconic; you definitely up the makeup when you come here. Luckily, I have an amazing team that I work with from L'Oreal Paris. It's been fun to create different looks. We've had a lot of fun doing different things.
Do you have any beauty regrets?
The brows. 100%. I had skinny brows in the late '90s and early 2000s, and it took so long for them to grow back. I know the trend is kind of coming back, but I think I'm going to skip that one. If you've done it the first time, it's like, "I can sit this one out."
On the opposite end of that spectrum, are there any trends that you'd want to come back?
I love the '60s era. For some of the hairstyles, they really went for it; women would go to the hairdresser and get their hair set and it would be a whole thing. That would be fun — not all the time, because I think it's quite high maintenance — but it would be great to see some of those incredible, dramatic kinds of looks.
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Read the original article on InStyle.