Hollywood power publicist Kelly Bush Novak on Thursday called for gender equality throughout the entertainment industry — with a deadline just three years from now
“Let’s demand that our representation and inclusion in all aspects of our industry be 50/50 by the year 2020,” Bush Novak said in a fiery speech Thursday at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast L.A., crediting an idea by one of her clients, “Transparent” creator Jill Soloway.
“Equal representation in our executives, directors, writers, showrunners, department heads, the DGA, WGA, PGA, IATSE and SAG-AFTRA. On boards of directors,” she said.
Bush Novak is one of the most powerful publicity executives in Hollywood, whose firm represents Margot Robbie, Emilia Clark, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams and many others.
She also called for a change to the corporate culture that has allowed widespread cases of sexual harassment cases like those involving the recently fired indie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
“We need to demand 100 percent transparency — to reveal once and for all what hides behind the legal settlements and non-disclosure agreements that have conspired to silence victims,” Bush Novak said. “We need to hold the studios, production companies and individuals complicit in these crimes accountable — legally and financially. We need to boycott those who refuse to cooperate and perpetuate this abuse of power.”
She also urged women to take up activism in both cultural and political fronts, urging donations to Planned Parenthood and supporting LGBTQ+ rights and racial equality.
“We need to support politicians who represent us — and not just during election cycles,” she said. “We need to elect politicians who support us. We need to care about election results and redistricting efforts as much as we worry about tracking and box office.”
The Power Women Breakfast series brings together influential women of entertainment, media, technology and brands in key cities to network and connect. TheWrap has built a broad community of professional women who are decision makers and mothers, leaders and wives, innovators and activists.
The franchise is now in four cities Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
Here is the full speech:
I want to begin by reading the text of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment:
“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
It was first introduced in Congress in 1923, three years after women won the right to vote.
It was reintroduced in every Congressional session for half a century, until it was approved by the House and Senate in 1972. However, it failed to be ratified by the required number of (38) States.
The Equal Rights Amendment has been reintroduced in every session of Congress since 1982. That simple sentence, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” That simple sentence. Denied.
There are 126 million adult women in the United States according to the latest census. At least six million more women than men. We hold up more than half the sky.
What we are discussing this morning is a civil rights issue and until it is viewed through that lens and alongside the related injustice that conspires to diminish People of Color, the LGBTQ community and the under-represented/marginalized in society, we will continue to relive this horror and never reach our rightful place at the table.
Where was the outcry to support Cosby’s accusers? Mild in comparison. Are we vocal and determined to stem the epidemic of Trans women being murdered right now? Did we stand by while Hugh Hefner, a man who put us on our backs in print with our legs spread and referred to Quaaludes as “thigh openers”, was praised in the media as a folk hero?
ONE GROUP controls our civil rights, our economic destiny and robs us of autonomy over our own bodies.
Sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence. This is violence against women.
When we are robbed of a safe workplace, we lose economic freedom and self- determination. Wage inequality and economic injustice are part of the same systemic problem.
Reproductive rights and access to healthcare. Have you made your donation and commitment to Planned Parenthood, the cornerstone of healthcare and reproductive freedom for women without the privilege we in this room enjoy? Planned Parenthood provides birth control options and basic health care for over 2.5 million people in the United States, half of them in rural and underserved communities. Our government plans to defund it.
Racial justice, LGBTQ rights, the rights of minorities and children. These allied communities all face the same obstacles to success and SAFETY.
Where we are oppressed, we cannot thrive. We cannot contribute at the level we must to change the culture.
There should be no one – no one – who will take a meeting, have a conversation or discuss a future project or endeavor with Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, James Toback (oh, and there are more). Serial offenders. Fox News protects and rewards Bill O’Reilly – with a raise – even after they learned of a settlement large enough to indicate more than a desire to settle out of court. $32 Million Dollars. What behavior do you suppose warranted Bill O’Reilly to make a payment that large? Think about it. Are we letting those Fox News advertisers know how we feel?
In 1972, landmark Title IX legislation mandated gender equality in education. It changed the destinies of a generation. There were only 35,000 women physicians in 1975. Today there are 350,000 women practicing medicine and women now outnumber men in both medical and law school admissions. (By the way, there is still work to do; a glass ceiling and wage inequality still exist in Law and Medicine. And in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers.) But the sea change in representation in these fields should inspire us this morning. This is the path to change.
Oh, did I mention that the Trump administration wants to “revamp” Title IX? Yes, this is a civil rights issue.
The conduct our industry has condoned with silence must stop and as media professionals we have a pulpit…and power. We need to champion the voices of women, People of Color, of the queer community. We need to be the agents of this change. For our daughters and our sons.
My sage client Jill Soloway has an idea that I’d like to introduce this morning. I think it’s brilliant and necessary:
Let’s demand that our representation and inclusion in all aspects of our industry be 50/50 by the year 2020. Equal representation in our executives, directors, writers, showrunners, department heads, the DGA, WGA, PGA, IATSE and SAG-AFTRA. On boards of directors. 50/50 by 2020.
We need to demand 100% transparency – to reveal once and for all what hides behind the legal settlements and non-disclosure agreements that have conspired to silence victims. We need to hold the studios, production companies and individuals complicit in these crimes accountable – legally and financially. We need to boycott those who refuse to cooperate and perpetuate this abuse of power.
We need to support politicians who represent us – and not just during election cycles. We need to elect politicians who support us. We need to care about election results and redistricting efforts as much as we worry about tracking and box office.
When we leave this room. Today, tomorrow and as we mentor and guide the next generation of women and our allies. THIS can be our legacy.
50/50 by 2020. Because when the playing field is level, everyone wins. Let’s make it happen.
Who’s with me?