I became an activist in the early 1970s during (and because of) the Vietnam War. This happened for 2 reasons: I was 30 years old, just finished making “Barbarella” and was expecting my first child. My life felt meaningless. All around me I saw signs of people risking their lives and livelihoods to help end the war. I admired them. I wanted my life to have purpose like theirs.
Then I began to meet American GIs who opposed the war. It was what they told me about what my country was doing in Vietnam that inspired me to throw my lot in with them and for 3 years I met with, organized with, protested with Vietnam Veterans and active duty servicemen. (They were mainly men during that war).
When the war ended, I continued my activism. It brought meaning to my life. I could use my celebrity for a purpose greater than myself. It felt like I was coming home to where I was meant to be. I am, after all, the daughter of an actor (Henry Fonda) who played in films like “Grapes of Wrath,”The Oxbow Incident,” “Twelve Angry Men,” films about equality, justice, fairness. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I believe those values that mattered to my father, penetrated me on a deep level, waiting for the time when I was ready to fight for them myself…in life, not just in film.
I also believe that my activism, especially my feminism, helped make me a better actor because my understanding of people deepened.
I think you can be most effective as an activist when you are involved with something that speaks to you in your gut. Stopping violence against women and girls, helping adolescents see a bright future for themselves so they’ll avoid risky behaviors, helping expand women’s presence in the media–these are things that matter to me.
What matters to you?
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We held it at the Paley Center in New York. Jewelle Bickford hosted a VIP party beforehand which I missed because my plane from Jacksonville was 3 hours late!
Gabby was really amazing. I wish I had recorded some of the things she said. So wise and strong.
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Category: Get Involved