Debra Messing says the recent sea change in regards to Hollywood’s sexual misconduct problem is not a temporary shift in attitude, but rather the beginning of systematic change.
“There’s been this call to arms — this incredible need to enact change,” Messing told TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman at the Sundance Film Festival. “The Time’s Up initiative — that is something that is just starting,” said the “Will & Grace” star, adding that nearly $20 million has already been raised toward legal help for accusers dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace.
Messing was one of more than 300 prominent women in Hollywood who teamed up earlier this month to launch the Time’s Up initiative to combat sexual harassment and gender inequity on the job, including a legal defense fund aimed to help less privileged women — such as those in non-entertainment fields. The aim is to help protect them from sexual misconduct and the potential fallout from reporting it.
“It’s every industry, gender inequality is a real problem on many levels,” she said. “I feel like this is the second wave, so to speak. I really do believe that this is not going to be just a moment, this is going to be a movement.”
Though the short-term goal is to call out and stop sexual harassment and assault, the big-picture goal, Messing said, is equality. Next steps include getting more companies and sectors of Hollywood to sign on to the “50-50 by 2020” promise of achieving gender parity within the next two years.
“I think it’s an ambitious goal, and I think it’s a worthy goal,” she said. “Already we’ve gotten agencies signing on to say, ‘We are committed.’ Certainly in terms of screenwriters and directors and executives, people in decision-making positions, it needs to reflect the world around us.”
Messing stars in Aneesh Chaganty’s thriller “Search,” a Sundance entry this year, which is led by John Cho as a father searching for his missing teenage daughter who uses her online platform on her computer for help.
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Sundance 2018: Hilary Swank, Forest Whitaker and Armie Hammer among the stars shot by photographer Irvin Rivera in Park City
Photographed by Irvin Rivera for TheWrap at the Acura Studios