Today at Univision Communications’ Sundance panel, “Behind the Camera: Where Diversity Begins,” Ashley Judd shared some of the means by which she’s making changes for women and diverse groups in the current Time’s Up and post-Harvey Weinstein scandal era.
Said Judd about meeting with WME her agency: “I would like for this agency that represents me to be 50/50 male female including all ethnicities, races and sexual orientations. And the 50/50 needs to be included in all decision-making levels, which means they would have to add two females at the top.”
Judd’s call upon her agency occurred as part of a Time’s Up conversation she had with WME back in December following the sexual harassment accusations she made against Weinstein in the October New York Times expose on the mogul.
Even before WME met with Judd, the agency has continually been on a trajectory of gender parity. Currently, there are 40% of women in leadership positions at WME across the talent, film, literary packaging, music, and commercials departments, with the agency comprised of 48% female employees overall.
“Those of us who have the ability are also asking for 50/50 ryders in our deals,” said the actress about her talks with Epix on her current TV series.
“And that’s part of why I wanted to do Berlin Station on Epix. It’s a very good show, the cast is outstanding, but also the executive of the show happens to be female and she wants 50/50 with her directors,” added Judd.
Judd sat with Coco co-director Adrian Molina, producer and president of Gamechanger films Mynette Louie, CAA agent Darnell Strom, and CEO of FMG Studios Camila Jimenez Villa.
Introducing the panel, the moderator, Fusion TV host Kimberly Brooks, extolled Judd as “a nasty woman.”
Brooks asked the Double Jeopardy actress what grade she’d give the current state of the media in its inclusion of diversity and women, to which Judd answered, “Acknowledging that we are in a moment of great change, I would give us an ‘F’. I’d also say that the tide is changing and that we have both the will and the desire and the data to show how easy it is to take that ‘F’ to ‘A+’.”
Citing the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media, as well as Annenberg’s Inclusion or Invisibility? diversity study in the entertainment industry, Judd added, “If we add five female characters to screenplays in three years, we’ll have gender parity on screen.”
While Judd didn’t go to great lengths to talk about Weinstein, Brooks asked the actress to talk about the changes that have occurred for women in the last year since the Women’s March and Weinstein’s scandal; Park City “was ground zero” for the mogul, per Brooks.
Judd answered by expounding on her work with Time’s Up. “My role at the moment as someone who has done a lot of trauma work, and of course I’m a survivor of sexual assault and rape, and I’ve had the opportunity to do all kinds of really cathartic and powerful and healing trauma work. I’m a bit of an elder in a way of holding the space for some younger folk who haven’t had a chance to process their experiences, because the more we acknowledge abuse, assault and harassment for what it is, the more we become clarified in our thinking and emotional resonances of what actually happened to us.”
“I have to know the hill on which I’m willing to die. The hill on which I’m willing to die is for equality, and if that means going to jail, being maligned, being defamed, having tremendous economic loss because I stood up to Harvey Weinstein, and it’s incalculable the amount of money I could have made if I didn’t, that’s the hill on which I’m willing to die,” said Judd.
“We go from being victims to survivors to being leaders,” said the actress.
At the end of the Univision session, she led the audience through some affirmations, which they shouted: “I am powerful!”, “I can change the world!”, “I am enough!”, “I do enough!”, “We can have unity!”, “We have so much in common!” and “We are all precious, loved and empowered!”
Judd praised Jennifer Fox’s film The Tale, which is currently playing at the festival and produced by Louie’s Gamechanger Films, for capturing a sexual assault survivor’s psychology. In the film, Laura Dern plays a woman who re-examines a sexual experience.
“I understand the re-evaluation and re-investigation of abuse: It was never my shame and it was the perpetrator’s shamelessness that he put on me,” said Judd about the themes in The Tale.
At the top of the session, Judd shared with the audience some horrifying memories, moments which encouraged her to become more proactive in speaking up and taking a stand as a woman. She recalled a time as a young actress when she was asked in her first screen test to take off her shirt. “It was between another woman and me and said ‘That’s isn’t about our acting, that’s about evaluating a pair of breasts and the answer isn’t No, but Hell, No!’ ” said Judd. The actress took it upon herself to call the producers out. However, her agent at that time tried to backstop her, saying that was the talent rep’s responsibility. Judd told her agent “No,” as the situation was in regards to her body.
Another time when Judd spoke truth to power was during a film production where the crew and actors were working 17-18 hour days.
Judd said at the time, “I am a union woman, and need to use my union in this example.”
Note: Judd’s quotes were corrected on Jan. 23 following original post.