How Time's Up is fighting harassment in Hollywood and beyond
A version of this story appears in Entertainment Weekly #1498, on stands Friday. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.
The end of 2017 was marked by an unprecedented outpouring of sexual harassment claims in the entertainment industry — and a loud call for change. It was a watershed moment, but many worried that little would improve in a system that tends to protect powerful men and silence victims. Then, on Jan. 1, more than 1,000 actresses, agents, and other industry figures — including Shonda Rhimes, Reese Witherspoon, America Ferrera, Ashley Judd, Lena Waithe, Rashida Jones, Kerry Washington, and Eva Longoria — published an open letter in The New York Times and the Spanish-language newspaper La Opinion unveiling the massive initiative Time’s Up: “The struggle for women to break in, to rise up the ranks and to simply be heard and acknowledged in male-dominated workplaces must end,” it said. “Time’s up on this impenetrable monopoly.”
Time’s Up is arguably the biggest action-oriented response yet to the wave of allegations against men in Hollywood and seeks to expand the conversation to other less publicized industries: In November, 700,000 female farmworkers published an open letter supporting their Hollywood peers and calling the crisis in the entertainment industry a “reality we know far too well.” The Time’s Up letter vows to use Hollywood’s privilege to fight for working women everywhere, focusing on everything from sexual harassment in the workplace to gender parity at major companies.
“We didn’t want to just put out social-media statements or send our regards,” Katie McGrath, who runs the production company Bad Robot with her husband, J.J. Abrams, tells EW. “We wanted to back it up with real resources that all women and men could access and begin the healing.”
Four female agents at CAA — Maha Dakhil, Michelle Kydd Lee, Hylda Queally and Christy Haubegger — formed the group in October to discuss systemic sexual harassment in the industry, after multiple women came forward to accuse producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. (Weinstein denies any allegations of nonconsensual sex.) Before long, Time’s Up had expanded to include agents from WME, UTA, and ICM, as well as actresses, directors, executives, and lawyers.
“Women in this industry have been siloed and have been set up as competitors for a long time, and this is an opportunity that has really broken down those barriers and allowed women to see how much we could leverage if we talked to each other, if we strategized together, and if we met together,” McGrath adds. “And the other thing is just how representative it is of the women in this community — women of all ethnicities, of all different sexual orientations. You see what can be unleashed when we all really recognize the different gifts that we bring to the table.”
The group’s goals include gender parity at studios and talent agencies, as well as anti-harassment legislation, but one of the biggest initiatives is the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which will provide legal support to women and men who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in their careers. By Jan. 2, the fund had already raised more than $14 million, led by donations from Jennifer Aniston, Meryl Streep, Taylor Swift, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Oprah Winfrey, Jessica Chastain, and more. “What is so special about this moment is that we are standing in solidarity with one another,” Ferrera tells EW. “It’s not one single voice or one single industry or one single profession.”
Time’s Up’s next action: taking its message to the red carpet on Jan. 7, as both men and women wear black at the Golden Globes to raise awareness.
“It’s about women coming together and standing with their male allies to say that enough is enough,” Ferrera says. “It’s time that things change.”