Salma Hayek laid into sexism on Tuesday, saying Hollywood treats actresses like performing monkeys and wants to be rid of them once they realise they are smart.

The star of Frida and Desperado lambasted the “macho” attitudes of Tinseltown, where fewer than 7% of films are made by women. “Hollywood is not going to change because it is all guys,” she said.

During a talk at the Cannes Film Festival, she said, “From the beginning, I realised I wasn’t being treated equally. Maybe if you are pretty you can get parts easier but it’s really violent to assume if you’re pretty, you’re stupid. If Hollywood realises that you’re smart, their anger gets multiplied.”

Hayek claimed, “To many, young actresses are playthings, they say ‘Get a monkey’ and then the monkey talks and they say, ‘Oh my God, maybe we are going to make money.’ Then one day, they see the monkey doing algebra and say, ‘Kill the monkey’,” she said. “That is why we have a problem with women behind the camera as directors and producers.”

Hayek’s told that her journey through Hollywood was not easy, she added, “Imagine I came not only as a woman but as a Mexican-Arab. People would laugh at me, I was the only Mexican or Latino in drama school except for Benicio Del Toro, who is Puerto Rican, so kind of American, and he’s a man. Nobody laughed at him. They were laughing at me in Mexico too, for trying to break into Hollywood.”

She said, “Hollywood had disregarded and disrespected women. They haven’t realised women are a great economic power, they’re a huge audience. We have been neglected for so long they don’t know what we want to watch, we don’t even know because we always think of who we will be watching the movie with – the husband, the family, the children.”

 “Today, 80% of the decision-makers of what movie or television shows to watch are female. Women work, make money and want to have fun but they have not capitalised on that,” the superstar blamed movie executives for failing to play to the female demographic.