Last week I posted “#MeToo” on my social media sites with great hope that adding my voice to the groundswell of women opening up about their sexual harassment experiences might shine such a light into the dark corners of Hollywood that abuse will no longer be able to survive without the secrecy and shame in which it thrives. I am grateful for the movement and have a relieved sense of optimism that the outrage we all share will lead to real and meaningful change in our industry. But I have been troubled by many comments I’ve seen on twitter and Facebook making blanket statements about how Hollywood is a cesspool, that it is only filled with predators and human excrement and filled with the most depraved dregs of humanity. No exaggeration. I mean the comments are definitely an exaggeration, but the fact that they were made is not. And I just felt the need to point out that it’s not just a problem in Hollywood – in every work environment, there are seedy shadows in which predators hide.
As a teen growing up in Kentucky, I experienced harassment similar to the kind I have experienced in Hollywood at both the pizza place where I worked and on modeling gigs I was sent to around town. I was assaulted on a cruise ship by a grown man who worked in the kitchen and laughed as he kissed and groped me while I tried to fight him off. The mother of my friend was raped at the offices of a discount retail store by an executive after her sales pitch with him – an incident she reported and ended up losing her job over. That experience deeply ingrained in me a fear that speaking out only makes things worse, one that I am just now starting to overcome. And so as far as I can tell from my own experiences, and those of the women I know and am close to, sexual harassment, discrimination, and abuse permeate every area of the work force. Wherever there is power or postion that can be exploited, whether it be a Priest or a Politician, a Boss or a Husband with a great difference in physical or financial strength, that power can be exploited. Hollywood has had it's share of exploitation, but it does not have the market cornered on wrong-doing. Nor is the underbelly the whole of this business. There may be the very well-publicized nightmares lurking, but the truth is for me, it has by and large, been an absolute dream come true to work here.
I love writing movies, and I have had the great fortune to work with many caring, hard-working artists who dedicate their lives to try and make great films to share with the world. In fact, the vast majority of men I have worked with, from executives and directors to agents and managers have been an inspiration and a joy to work with. Many have become good friends. I have met encouragers of both sexes along the way, and I am forever grateful for the camaraderie we share of wanting to spread a little more hope and love into an aching world with the movies we create. I know we don’t always hit the mark, but I can tell you that most of us are trying our hardest. Sure, there’s crap that comes out of Hollywood, and there are jerks and criminals only here for their own selfish pursuits, but Harvey is not Hollywood. Neither are all the men like him. Show business is just like every other slice of humanity -- made up of good and bad, terrible and amazing people. I have been lucky to know an enormous amount of wonderful men and women in this industry putting themselves out there every day to just try and do good work, to provide for their families, and to live their own small part of the American Dream.
There are certainly some horrible, heartbreaking problems in Hollywood, and a dire need to make a serious effort towards gender equality across the board and around the world. But I am proud of the films I have worked on and the people I have worked with, and I still can’t believe I get to be a part of an industry that has inspired me my whole life. I know mine is just one perspective, but it’s one I humbly offer to the ongoing conversation with the hope that people can start to look to their own surroundings at work and in their communities where injustice is taking place, to speak up about it, and then to take some time to really focus on the far greater good that is all around. It’s easy to get caught up in the anger and fear emanating from our computers, televisions, and phones every second of every day, and the temptation to disregard or vilify whole groups of people is great, but that ultimately only leads to a despairing kind of paralysis. Instead, I hope we can look to all of the good friends and neighbors and coworkers we know to inspire us to take action when needed, and to remind us that it is not hard to see the beauty of life when we start to truly pay attention.