Considered to be acting royalty (and not just because she won an Oscar for playing the Queen), Dame Helen Mirren has always been a trailblazer for women in the arts.
This week she received the Crystal Nymph award, for her small-screen work at the Monte Carlo TV Festival, adding to the every-growing collection of accolades that Dame Merrin has received.
In promoting the event, Dame Mirren also opened up to The Hollywood Reporter as to her ‘feminist awakening’ and how the arts are changing to include more female voices. “There is a pressure mounting behind a dam, and I hope that that dam is finally bursting in terms of women directors and women-led dramas,” she said.
Reflecting on her career, Dame Mirren commented on how attitudes have changed dramatically since she first started her career on British television in the lead role on Prime Suspect, however there still remain some challenges for women to overcome. “I think it’s becoming embarrassing to turn someone down because they’re female. The mind-set has changed,” she said. “Unfortunately there are dinosaurs, and there are some dinosaurs that are 50 instead of 80.”
Dame Mirren has also been working to fight ageist prejudice when it comes to ideas of beauty and seeing older women in films. “Film and television should be for all ages,” she said.
At an earlier graduation speech at Tulane University, Dame Mirren called on students to identify themselves as feminists, saying that she herself initially wasn’t sure about the movement. “I always was a feminist, and I did identify as a feminist… but in the early days of feminism, the late ‘60s and ‘70s, there was a political ferocity about feminism I couldn’t identify with,” she explained. “Now in retrospect I understand how important that ferocity was.”