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Jessica Alba: The #MeToo movement ‘blew up’ the old way Hollywood operates

Max Zahn with Andy Serwer
·3 mins read

The coronavirus pandemic hit Hollywood hard, disrupting film and movie production and leading to the temporary closure of cinemas across the U.S. and lingering fears about going to the movies.

But actress Jessica Alba, who currently stars alongside Gabrielle Union in the show “LA’s Finest,” told Yahoo Finance in a recent interview that she is not “not too concerned” about the movie theater business, noting that the #MeToo movement has already forced Hollywood to adapt and change.

“Old Hollywood has a kind of tough time adjusting,” Alba told Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer on Sept. 17. “They've seen this coming for a good decade, and they were slow to move.”

“The MeToo movement really blew up a lot of the kind of old stodgy ways that Hollywood operates,” she adds. “Similarly, I think Hollywood just really has been forced to think of the new media and new digital era.”

“They’re a little slow to adjust and change, but it’ll happen,” Alba says.

Slow progress on equality in the entertainment industry

Alba, who is Latina, acknowledged the impact of the #MeToo movement but criticized the lack of progress made on gender and racial representation in the entertainment industry.

“You don't see a ton of leaders that are Black and brown at the same scale in corporate America or in entertainment, frankly,” she says. “And certainly women.”

She pointed to “LA’s Finest,” a rare show starring two women of color, who also both serve as executive producers. The project exemplifies the empowerment of women through both on-camera representation and novel storytelling.

“To really utilize this platform with Jerry Bruckheimer, who is known for these very strong, testosterone-heavy action franchises,” she says, referring to the film producer known for “Top Gun.” “To be able to take that and flip it on its head and put two female leads, and a Black and a brown woman, and have us still do all the action.”

“You still have all the suspense, you have the comedy, you have all of those things that make that entertainment so great,” she adds. “But you're not seeing two dudes do it.”

The #MeToo movement took down high-profile entertainment figures like producer Harvey Weinstein and comedian Bill Cosby, but observers have questioned whether the industry has taken meaningful steps to empower women.

Earlier this month, a study released by the University of Southern California found barely any progress has been made in recent years on the proportion of women in speaking roles in popular movies.

Alba spoke to Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.

Jessica Alba, actress and founder of The Honest Company, appears on "Influencers with Andy Serwer."
Jessica Alba, actress and founder of The Honest Company, appears on "Influencers with Andy Serwer."

In addition to her work on screen, Alba remains involved in the day-to-day operations of The Honest Company, a beauty products and home goods company that she founded in 2012. In May, the company was on pace for more than $350 million in sales for 2020, CEO Nick Vlahos told Vogue Business

She said her role at The Honest Company also challenges gender and racial norms around representation within the business world.

“There might be a mentality in corporate America that you have to be a cut-throat white middle-aged guy to be successful,” says Alba.

“We are the antithesis of all of that,” she adds. “We're successful and people are happy.”