Last Friday, L’Oréal Paris Canada hosted a panel on women’s empowerment with actresses Amber Heard, Andie MacDowell and Shohreh Aghdashloo who were in town for the Toronto International Film Festival. 

Here are some the most inspiring, shocking and unsurprising comments made. 

On women in film:  

The broad spectrum of the female experience is not being represented because 80% of the creative-decision makers are 80% male. Women make up over half the ticket buying population, yet we make up barely even 30% of the speaking roles? It’s ridiculous.” – Heard 

I’ve been around long enough that I remember Sherry Lansing [former CEO of Paramount Pictures] and everyone being amazed that she was a head of a studio and an executive. She was the only woman.  And when you don’t have another voice at the table to stand up with you and you’re still led and dominated by men, things don’t change.” – MacDowell 

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On family: 

“I go by my grandma’s rules. She told me ‘You want to be [your daughter’s] friend, but before that you want to be her parent. Do not try to be friends first. Be her parent and then act friendly.’ I am very honest with [my daughter]. I am very blunt. Once she asked me, ‘I am invited to my best friend’s wedding and my fiancé’s uncle has invited us to dinner; what am I going to do?’ I said, ‘Imagine you were dead. Then you would not have been able to make it to either of them. Now pick one.’” – Aghdashloo

On aging: 

“When I turned 40 years old they said, ‘How does it feel to know that you are not going to work anymore?’ Journalists asked me this, not just men but women. It was normal question. And they were right! It became very difficult at 40 for me to get a job. Then I would have people say to me, ‘Don’t worry Andie, Jack [Nicholson] and Warren [Beatty] are going to need you.’ They are twenty years older than me, but men start hiring younger women because it makes them look younger and they give the impression that the men do not age.” – MacDowell 

“I just read a book that someone sent to me where the male writer has the female character say ‘Well, men just age better than women.’ I hate this idea. It drives me completely insane. It’s so frustrating because it’s what we’ve been told for so long and many women accept it. Women need to be seen as beautiful and vital. We age the same and we have the same power. It’s so hard to find a complex and interesting role for women, particularly at my age.” – MacDowell

On advice for young women: 

Fight to make the changes yourself, even though it might be unpopular. Don’t be afraid to be called a bitch, because they call you that when they are threatened by you. Women are consistently expected to implicitly apologize for how we look or the effect that that look makes on other people. If you are too pretty, well that’s offensive. I’m eliciting feelings in you that are unhelpful if I want to be taken seriously. Or it’s that we’re too fat, too thin, too old, too young. Looking at scripts is kind of depressing because you get five or ten across your desk a week and you maybe see one with an actual quality in the character description. If the first word is beautiful, sexy, hot or some version of that, I’m automatically not interested because it is not a fleshed out character.” – Heard 

You can watch the entire show here