The Nevada Women’s Film Festival is honoring actress, singer and production studio owner Susan Anton, who lives in Las Vegas, with its Nevada Woman of Achievement award on Thursday, March 21.
Organizers picked Anton because she has been outspoken about gender inequality in the entertainment industry.
Anton told KNPR's State of Nevada that she personally didn't feel discriminated against when she started in the industry, but she witnessed a great many women not being treated equally.
On set with one famous director, who called all the women 'honey' or 'baby' but called all the men by their names, Anton told him she wasn't going to stand where he wanted her to until he called her by her name.
“I think it has been something women have had to have a lot of courage to straighten up your back and stand strong knowing the repercussion," she said, "They might take your job away from you if they think you’re going to be trouble.”
However, she believes those days have changed. Anton believes women in the industry have galvanized around the cause of equality and all the good men in the industry are 100 percent behind them.
“I’ve seen a big shift in that since the time I started back in 1969, 70,” she said.
Anton's career launched when she won the Miss California title, but it didn't take her long to be performing on the Strip with the likes of Sammy Davis Jr.
“One of the great thrills of my life was working with Sammy Davis Jr,” she said.
That was not her first glimpse of the Las Vegas, however.
“The very first time I saw Las Vegas I was 13 years old and I was on a Greyhound bus and I was with a group of other teenagers and that summer we were on an adventure where we were touring around the United States and parts of Canada,” she said.
When she was 22 years old, she was back in Las Vegas this time as a performer on the Strip, "we don't know where our dreams are going to take us," she said.
In 2006, Anton performed in the musical "Hairspray" at the Luxor and more recently, she has done shows at Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center.
She moved to Las Vegas in the 90s and has seen the town grow.
“I think of Las Vegas a big little town,” she said, “There is so much about it that is like it was, but it is just much, much bigger.”
Anton is happy to see that more of the Strip headliners now are women and women who can fill the showrooms and arenas they're playing.
At the film festival, Anton plans on addressing the reckoning much of Hollywood has gone through in the Me Too movement. She believes things are changing with more women taking the lead on projects and using that power to support other women.
“I was encouraged, when we watched the Oscars this year, to see how many women as editors and cinematographers and other areas that used to be male-dominated were acknowledged and won,” Anton says. “I was still disappointed that there wasn’t a single female director, given that Wonder Woman was one of the biggest grossing films of the year.”
As things have changed in Hollywood, asking actresses 'what are you wearing' on the red carpet has been replaced with more thoughtful questions.
Anton, of course, has always been noted for her beauty and she said being asked about her beauty routine or the focus being on her looks is "ordinary" to her now.
She said at 68 she feels great.
"I think we all want to look our best, but if we don’t feel our best. If we don’t have a rich spiritual life, personal life, friends, family, then it’s not going to matter. I really believe when you have a rich inner life it does show on your face.”
The Nevada Women’s Film Festival runs this Friday through Sunday, March 22-24.
Susan Anton, actress, singer, production studio owner
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