Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy is taking a stand against sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood. During the past week, one of the biggest scandals the entertainment industry has ever seen was exposed involving Harvey Weinstein – American film producer, former film studio executive and former co-chairmen of The Weinstein Company – who was accused of sexual harassment and/or assault by now over 50 women in the media and entertainment industry.
Actresses like Angelina Jolie, Rose McGowan, Cara Delevingne, Kate Beckinsale and Game of Thrones‘ Lena Headey shared their horrific stories about their encounters with Weinstein. Their accounts spurred other actresses like Jennifer Lawrence and Riverdale’s Lili Reinhart to share their own stories about the abuse they suffered from other men in power. The events of the last few weeks have started a discussion about the dark cloud surrounding Hollywood since its inception regarding women trying to break into the entertainment industry historically run by powerful men.
Related: The Academy Expels Harvey Weinstein
During ELLE’s Women in Hollywood event on Monday night, Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm – the production company created by George Lucas best known for the epic Star Wars franchise – gave a speech calling for the creation of a film industry commission designed to develop “new, industry-wide protections against sexual harassment and abuse.” You can read her full speech here, below are some of the key excerpts:
“Increased awareness of the belittlement, objectification, and predation long endured by women who work in film will certainly be one result of the exposure of what Harvey Weinstein did and was permitted to do. Women who were subject to similar criminal treatment in the future will certainly look to the brave women who have come forward to tell what was done to them as these shocking and also horribly familiar events have been brought to light.”
“The light of public scrutiny will have been strengthened, and we all hope the ability of corporations, boards of directors, and colleagues to cover up and countenance sexual predators will be severely curtailed. Predators must come to feel that they can’t count on power or wealth or fame to shield them from the consequences of their actions. But sexual harassment of women and men, predation, rape, and the misogyny that is the context for this inhumanity will continue unless there is decisive, industry-wide institutional response that legislates change rather than hopes for it to happen.”
“For the past few days, I’ve been in discussions with friends and colleagues, and I want to use my few moments of speaking tonight to offer a proposal. The organizations that constitute the American film industry, the studios, the unions, the guilds, and the talent agencies should immediately convene a commission charged with the task of developing new, industry-wide protections against sexual harassment and abuse.”
Kennedy continued to explain that the commission, which would be fully funded by the industry, should be composed of, “specialists in labor and management practices, lawyers and legal scholars, sociologists, psychologists, feminists, activists, and theorists, as well as people who work in film and television” and that the solution would, “include zero-tolerance policies for abusive behavior and a secure, reliable, unimpeachable system in which victims of abuse can report what’s happened to them with a confident expectation that action will be taken without placing their employment, reputations, and careers at risk” – one of the major reasons many women in Hollywood, and in general, don’t report abuse.
Kennedy also added that she has already, “asked the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, of which I’m a governor, to take the first steps toward creating this commission” and that the “time to begin that work is now.” Since the news about Weinstein, other top Hollywood names have been outed as alleged abusers, such as Weinstein’s brother Bob, who is also being accused of sexual abuse by Amanda Segel, a showrunner for the Spike TV drama The Mist, and Amazon Studios head Roy Price, who has resigned from his position due to sexual harassment allegations. Considering the news of recent weeks, this may be the perfect time for leaders in Hollywood like Kennedy to take a stand for change in the industry.
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