Because it's worth fighting for

Dame Helen Mirren

Dame Helen Mirren

For Cannes creatives, Dame Helen Mirren’s visit to the Festival was most definitely worth it.

Cheers greeted the Oscar-winning actor as she walked on to the Lumière stage yesterday to talk about self-doubt, self-belief — and why it took L’Oréal so long to call her.

“But it was amazing when they did,” she said. “I thought, at last, at last, the shift’s happening and we’re going to start talking about age and beauty. When L’Oréal stepped into that space and allowed women of all ages to be a face for the brand, it was a pretty remarkable moment in advertising.”

Another remarkable moment came in 2016, when L’Oréal Paris and the Prince’s Trust embarked on mission to bolster the self-esteem of thousands of disadvantaged young people in the UK. “It’s funny in our sophisticated, beautiful, educated world that the whole issue of self-doubt seems to be more extreme than ever,” Mirren said. “I bet everyone in this room has experienced that awful moment of thinking I’m not good enough, or I’m too stupid, or my chin’s too double or my eyes are too small, but in the young it can be terribly debilitating. It can even lead to people killing themselves.”

To help combat this epidemic, the Prince’s Trust and L’Oréal have launched a programme of workshops across the UK. “The aim is to give young people the tools to fight self-doubt,” Mirren said. “For me, one of those tools — and I’d say this even if I wasn’t a representative for L’Oréal — is putting my face on in the morning. That helps me get through.”

Adrien Koskas, general manager of L’Oréal Paris, said that the brand’s decision to change its iconic strapline from ‘Because you’re worth it’ to ‘Because we are all worth it’ reflected L’Oréal’s commitment to diversity. “But it’s not only about declaring it,” he said. “Diversity isn’t a trend — a cool thing to do now. It’s something you act on, which is why this partnership with the Prince’s Trust is so important.”

As to what makes Mirren a highly effective brand ambassador, Koskas said: “She a fantastic voice. She’s authentic, sincere and there’s never any bullshit. That’s what we really like about Helen — in any situation, she’ll tell you the truth.”

Mirren added: “It’s so great to see older women and different genders and races and religions reflected in L’Oréal’s campaign. I think the diversity breakthrough has finally happened and, my God, I applaud it. It makes the world I live in so much better.”

Harriet Palmer