All images courtesy of Getty Images
The third installment of the Cars franchise hits theaters this weekend and traditionally, a movie with cars would skew more towards the young boy demographic, but with CARS 3, Pixar is shifting gears. Considering we are living in a progressive age where Wonder Woman is slaying the box office and gender equality is rightfully taking center stage, the latest Cars movie gives an unexpected dose of female empowerment. At the movie’s press conference, stars Cristela Alonzo and Kerry Washington talked about how the for the Cars universe, the future is female.
In the new movie, Alonzo plays Cruz Ramirez, a gung-ho car that trains the hero Lightning McQueen, who has been down-on-his-luck. For Alonzo, Cruz represented more than this.
“What I like about this story and Pixar creating this world — we tend to forget that it really is about skill,” said Alonzo. “We don’t reference that she is a girl. We talk about how good she is, and we see it in the story. It’s not about a boy or a girl doing something, it’s about the best person doing the best that they can.”
She adds that Cruz is not just exclusive to females, “What I like about her is that she’s very good at what she does, but at the same time she still has doubts about herself. She’s very relatable to both boys and girls. You may have doubts, but at the end of the day you realize that the only way to do your best is to just go for it and trust your instincts. I think we all struggle with that sometimes.”
Washington has been a fan of the Cars franchise for years and it showed with her enthusiasm for her character, race analyst Natalie Certain. More than that, she was excited about what these new characters represented.
“I do think it’s fun to see women in the film who are brave and smart and courageous — and also teachable,” said Washington. “They are humble enough to learn the lessons they need to learn by the end of the film.”
The Scandal star said that seeing the film with her daughter and her mother made the movie even more special saying, “To have three generations of women watching this film about empowerment beyond gender and inclusivity for women, really resonated for all of us.” She also adds that, as a woman of color, doing the movie helps illustrate profound lessons that are important to get out there.
Co-star Armie Hammer, who plays McQueen’s new rival, Jackson Storm, chimed in and said, “I have a young daughter. The fact that there is a strong female figure who is told that you can do anything you want; as a father to a little girl I love that. Getting to be a part of a movie with that message, I’m happy to be a part of that movie.”
Director Brian Fee also joined in on the celebration of women saying that his kids had a heavy influence on the movie, “I want my daughters to never be afraid to try something because they think they’re not going to be good at it. I never want to hear them say, ‘certain things are for boys. Certain things are for girls.’ As a father, if I see that something I said or did had an impact on them, that they are a little better off, then for me, that’s what life’s about. Those are the moments that we fight for and try to get on the screen.”
The undercurrent of female empowerment comes to a head at the end of the film when — SPOILER ALERT — Lightning and Cruz work together to win a race. Washington points out that it’s not about a girl beating a boy, but that they win together. “That’s such an important message that she wins, but they win together,” she adds. “There’s room for the mentor and the mentee, the girl and the boy, the champion and the newcomer. When we work together, there’s room for everybody at the table.”
Alonzo punctuates that saying, “That’s a great way to get a story about female empowerment — by reminding everybody that we’re all pretty much alike and if you work hard and have the skill, whoever is the best will win.”
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer