Samantha Morton: "Women need more education to become masters of our trade"

Women in all industries need more education to become "master of our trade", actress and director Samantha Morton told an audience at the Cannes Lions Festival.

She is supporting an initiative called Female Firsts to help women reach senior positions in the film industry, which was launched at the Cannes Lions Festival by magazine group Dazed in partnership with Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

Morton was interviewed by Jefferson Hack, Dazed co-founder, on the subject of gender inequality in Hollywood, where 95 per cent of film directors are male.

Morton said: "How did this happen? It wasn’t always this way in Hollywood; some of the most powerful women were in cinema. We need to inspire people. What we need more of for women is education; to learn how to become a master in our trade. We need to be allowed to get better."

Meanwhile, in addition to partnering with Dazed, H+K has launched its own programme to support women across the agency. H+K HER (Helping Executives Rise) has been created from staff feedback from both genders and will involve mentoring as well as events to showcase women in business.

Speaking at the Festival, Vikki Chowney, director of content and publishing strategies at H+K, said: "Our ultimate storytellers are the film industry. Gender equality in film will have a knock-on effect in other industries.

"The PR workforce is 70 per cent female but only 30 per cent hold senior positions. Despite our London board being 50/50 men and women, there's always more we could do."

H+K will be helping to promote Female Firsts among brands. The film fund supports first- or second-time women film-makers. Golden Globe award-winner Morton, who directed British film The Unloved, described her own experience in the transition from actress to film-maker.

"There was a lack of trust initially from the old boys because they know me as an actor," she said. "But after a while they were taking me down to the pub for a pint. It's not about having feminist films pumped into society, it's about equality."

She added that it is often perceived as "risky" to give a job with a significant budget to women.

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