Cate Blanchett has revealed that she would rather be called an actor than an actress.
The Australian A-lister, whose body of work shines on both screen and stage, explained her reasoning at the 2020 Venice Film Festival where she is serving as jury chief, after she gave her backing to Berlin Film Festival’s controversial decision to make prizes gender-neutral.
“I have always referred to myself as an actor,” Blanchett said, after being asked about the Berlin Film Festival’s move away from gendered prizes, per The Guardian.
“I am of the generation where the word actress was used almost always in a pejorative sense. So I claim the other space,” she added.
To further her point, the Academy Award-winning star asked the reporters if there was a female equivalent of the Italian word “maestro”, before being told there wasn’t.
“I think a good performance is a good performance no matter the sexual orientation of who is making them,” she said.
Blanchett, who has been a prominent advocate for the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement, is jury president at the Venice Film Festival this year, which has previously been condemned for being sexist and rife with “toxic masculinity”.
Even while attending the news conference ahead of the festival’s opening gala this year, Blanchett was asked whether she had asked her husband if she could go to Venice, given the risk of a second wave of COVID-19.
“My husband said I had permission to leave,” she said coolly. “My children not so much.”
Under her helm, the Festival has already seen the number of female directors in the running for the Golden Lion top prize quadruple to record a eight nominees, which Blanchett told Variety was “a direct response to the positive advances that have been made”.
The Venice Film Festival has long courted criticism for its lack of female representation — only one female film-maker was selected to compete for the top prize in 2017 and 2018 — despite signing a gender-parity pledge amid #MeToo and Time’s Up sweeping the industry.
In 2019, there was significant uproar when Roman Polanski, who plead guilty to a statutory rape charge in the US in 1978 but fled before sentencing and remains a fugitive of justice, was selected for his film An Officer and a Spy, for which he won second prize.