Some of the most prominent women in Hollywood open up to Oprah Winfrey about the impact of the Time’s Up campaign on raising awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace, and what they’d like to see in the future, in a revealing discussion to be broadcast on CBS’ “Sunday Morning” January 14.
Actresses America Ferrera, Natalie Portman, Tracee Ellis-Ross and Reese Witherspoon, producer Shonda Rimes (“Scandal”), Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, and attorney Nina Shaw gathered with Winfrey in Pasadena, California, earlier this week to talk about the efforts to bring change to how women are treated in the entertainment industry and around the world.
“There’s moments that you have to evaluate whether silence is going to be your only option,” says Witherspoon. “And certain times that was our only option. But now is not that time.”
Witherspoon talks about the fact that she was sexually assaulted by a director when she was just 16.
There is no playbook for these times, Winfrey notes, especially when it comes to how people should talk about the topic — or to each other.
“How do we as a society have a mature, nuanced conversation about how men and women should be relating to each other?” Winfrey asks. “Because there’s so many men and women now who are uncomfortable in their workplaces because of all that’s been uncovered and aren’t just really sure how to be. What do we say to them?”
“We’re humans. We’re all humans,” replied Portman. “And I think it’s treating people as fellow humans … it’s not because you have a daughter that you respect a woman, it’s not because you have a wife or a sister. It’s because we’re human beings, whether we’re related to a man or not. We deserve the same respect.”
The women are among more than 1,000 people — women and men — who have signed on to support Time’s Up, which is designed to address sexual harassment in the workplace in all fields.
“At this moment it’s a campaign,” says Ross. “And we’re all sort of workers among workers and women among women, sort of rolling up our sleeves and doing whatever sort of comes to the forefront.”
During the wide-ranging discussion, panel members talked with Winfrey about some of their own experiences; the goals and messages behind the Time’s Up campaign; and how the program may help women in workplaces without the bright spotlight of the entertainment business.
“You know, we have public voices, we have resources,” said Witherspoon. “But women who are workers in this country have nothing to gain in certain instances by coming forward. But we want to help. Like, it gives me strength to hopefully help other women.”
Adds Kennedy: “We have to maintain the momentum of this conversation, because they can’t.”
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