The 'Chelsea' host talks to EW about the future of the protest movement, and why it's so important for celebrities to speak out
Chelsea Handler has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump for ages, and this weekend was no exception. The Chelsea host joined the likes of Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams and others stars who, prompted by Trump’s derision of NFL athletes who kneel during the national anthem, posted photos of themselves taking a knee in solidarity. (Handler put her own spin on things, showing her dog taking four knees.)
Asked about her decision to take part in the movement, Handler told EW, “I just think everybody who has a platform needs to use it right now, and people need to speak up and speak loudly, because it’s really scary what’s going on and everybody has to say something… That little six-month waiting period of seeing if Donald Trump is going to be able to turn this ship around and become presidential is over. It didn’t happen. He’s demonstrated this behavior over and over and over again, and people with platforms need to speak up. Taking a Knee isn’t going anywhere. What we need is for more white people to be doing it, more white athletes.”
Handler cites the civil right’s movement as a precursor: “[Things like] this change when the race or group of people that aren’t being affected stand up. The civil rights movement changed when white people spoke up for black people. Women’s rights changed when men spoke up for women. And we need to do it again, unfortunately. We constantly have to fight for the very things we fought for generations before. But every white, responsible American citizen needs to stand up and talk about how wrong this is.”
The TV host and comedian has gotten increasingly vocal about politics and injustice over the past few years, and her Netflix shows, Chelsea and Chelsea Does, have been a departure from her previous, more lighthearted E! series, Chelsea Lately, which ran from 2007 to 2014. “What was I going to be screaming about then? [Obama] was called the N-word when he got into office and still said, ‘These are our constituents. These people who are calling me the N-word are our constituents and we need to get them health care.’ We’re talking about someone who was the most diplomatic, the most presidential person you could have in office, versus a toddler who should be in a diaper. It’s not intentional, it’s reactive. There’s nothing else I can do.”
Handler calls this “a dark, dark time” but does see something positive happening as a result: “The only silver lining is that we take back our democracy and people stand up for what they believe in. Every single person has a right to peacefully protest, period, end of story. Doesn’t matter where they are or what they’re doing.”
Chelsea is available on Netflix.