Cate Blanchett discusses the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and her work as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a new interview with Variety for the 2020 Power of Women issue.

Blanchett, who has supported UNHCR since 2014, tells the magazine of the current situation: “In my heart, I’m also [thinking of] UNHCR staff who’ve remained in the field, away from their families, delivering services at great threat to themselves. I’m full of admiration for them.”

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She adds of the growing understanding about the vulnerability of people in refugee camps, who have limited access to soap and water and where social isolation is impossible: “It’s a disaster waiting to happen.

“Even if Britain gets [the coronavirus] under control, the movement of people — who are moving because they’re imperiled — means the problem is not going away, and you can have a second or third outbreak.”

Blanchett also talks about Donald Trump’s decision to temporarily suspend U.S. funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) during a global pandemic. Trump is now threatening to make it permanent.

“It’s very, very shortsighted. It’s so bizarre to me that, in the wake of the pandemic, there’s still this sense of border protection rather than realizing this is a global problem that can only be solved through global connectivity.”

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The actor speculates the state of the entertainment industry after the pandemic and her role as the jury president for this year’s Venice Film Festival, which is set to run September 2-12.

Insisting the plans for the festival “are going ahead in a positive, realistic way”, Blanchett shares: “We can’t be guided by fear. We have to be forward-looking, and in an intelligent way. The systems we were labouring under weren’t working for everyone before. The only opportunity in this is to fix things.”

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