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Palm Springs: Renée Zellweger, Laura Dern and More on Increased Diversity and What Still Needs to Be Done (Video)

Antonio Banderas, Jay Roach and Bryan Stevenson also give their thoughts

Speaking to TheWrap at the Film Gala Thursday marking the start of the 2020 Palm Springs Film Festival, several festival honorees gave their thoughts on the success of efforts to increase diversity in the entertainment industry.

Some celebrated what they saw as significant progress over the last few years, including Antonio Banderas, who said he thinks the ground has been laid for a much more inclusive future.

“The movements that are happening now in the last three, four years, I think they are helping to create a consciousness,” Banderas told TheWrap. “And I think the new generations are going to step into those positions in a much more natural way.”

Banderas was one of several honorees and presenters at Thursday’s Film Gala at the 31st annual Palm Springs Film Festival who spoke to TheWrap. “Judy” star Renée Zellweger said Hollywood needs to continue efforts to increase diversity, which she said “seems to be working” to put Hollywood on the right track.

“It seems to be writing itself in the right direction. More outlets, more opportunities to see stories that are relevant to them,” Zellweger said. “Thank goodness, because for such a long time, everyone was making films and content for the people who did go to the movies, not for the people who would go. So, if you build it, they will come. I think that was proven time and time again in the last couple of years.”

“Little Women” star Laura Dern talked about how, as a girl she was only ever given books to read written by male authors. “Young girls and boys deserve to live through characters that deepen them,” Dern said. “I think it’s an exciting time for the next generation to be given narratives that they can breathe through and they can learn from that’s not the girl movie and the boy movie.”

“Bombshell” director Jay Roach said while there’s been significant progress, things could be moving much faster.

I’m involved in multiple film schools who are all working really, really hard to achieve a diversity, representation that matches anything like what happens the world. I think It’s just going to have to be an ongoing questioning, and I think the conversations are happening, but it doesn’t feel like it’s going fast enough,” Roach said.

TheWrap also spoke with civil rights lawyer and activist Bryan Stevenson, who presented Jamie Foxx with an award at the gala on behalf of the movie about Stevenson’s life, “Just Mercy.”

“I don’t think there’s any question there’s still a lot of work to be done in the entertainment industry to recognize the contributions of women and people of color,” Stevenson said. “We’re really in the early days of repairing a lot of damage that has been done when we’re focusing so exclusively on the role of white men.”

Watch TheWrap’s full video report above, and check out our recap of the gala here.