Zoe Saldaña Calls For “More Female CEOs,” But “Make Room” For Other Women Execs At The Table – Cannes

“We need more female CEOs.”

Such was the declaration Monday by Avatar and Guardians of the Galaxy actress Zoe Saldaña at the Cannes Film Festival’s Kering Suite.

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Saldaña is winning high praise for her turn as Rita in Jacques Audiard’s Emila Pérez. The actress plays an underpaid and underappreciated criminal attorney in Mexico who gets a rich opportunity repping a cartel lord. However, the kingpin demands to transition to a woman, Emila. But that new identity, life gets complicated.

“I think as women, we’re going got keep creating stories about us for us and forever, but we need more women sitting on boards, because they’re the gatekeepers,” she said today.

But Saldaña had more advice: “Once those women are there, don’t feel happy that you’re the only woman at the table .. make room.”

Specifically, minus three guys for more women. And Saldaña wasn’t being anti-guy, rather “bring a chair in, and bring another woman with you.”

“Art survives because we need middle industries to propel us from point A to point B,” Saldaña said. “You need a believer who is a shaker and maker. Those seats need to be held by other women.”

Expounding on Emila Pérez, Saldana said that Audiard really wanted her to play the part of Rita. The actress had a bit of a reservation going into the project and portraying a Mexican character as she’s of Dominican descent. However, Saldana gave Rita a Dominican backstory.

Saldaña had expressed to her agents that she wanted to play a Spanish-speaking role. At a certain point before Emilia Pérez, she says she felt that her career had plateaued, “but opportunities come” the actress emphasized.

On how she has gone against the grain of typecasting, Saldaña explained, “I lean into my team. I would love to say that I’m a one-woman shop. Sometimes, I can get in my own way. There are people that I trust. I’m a big girl, I’m wearing my big-girl pants.”

She said that her LBI reps advised her to take on a role in Taylor Sheridan’s Paramount+ series Special Ops: Lioness though she was intimidated due to the creator’s knack for long monologues.

“Do I love Taylor Sheridan’s material? Of course I do, so I couldn’t pass on that opportunity.

“I’ve been wanting to work outside of the machine and work where art is growing,” she said.

The world premiere of Emila Pérez received an 11-minute standing ovation at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

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