The mass exodus of current board members from the beleaguered Time’s Up over the Labor Day weekend was criticized by one prominent critic for its timing, as the non-profit hopes to turn over a new leaf under interim CEO Monifa Bandele.
Alison Turkos, a survivor who authored a letter signed by 145 others last month demanding that Time’s Up reexamine its mission, told TheWrap that while she is hopeful of being “an active participant” in whatever version of Time’s Up emerges over the coming months, the timing of the latest announcement does not inspire too much confidence.
“It cannot go unnoticed that this announcement from Time’s Up was made in the shadows of a Friday night, before a holiday weekend,” Turkos said. “Transparency is key and it is what the survivor community has been asking for from the beginning. Our letter clearly states this. Gatekeeping helps no one. The survivor community looks forward to being an active participant in this new iteration of Time’s Up. As the disability justice community taught us, nothing about us without us.”
On Saturday, Time’s Up announced that Eva Longoria, Shonda Rhimes and Jurnee Smollett were exiting as board members, joining all but four current board members stepping down from the organization.
“Time’s Up is ready for new leadership, and we want to move forcefully toward its new iteration,” exiting board members Shonda Rhimes, Eva Longoris, Jurnee Smollett, Christy Haubegger, Hilary Rosen, Michelle Kydd, Katie McGrath and Nina Shaw, said in a statement posted online Saturday. “We have strong faith in the talent and dedication of our interim CEO Monifa Bandele as a leader.”
Survivor and Time’s Up co-founder Rosanna Arquette tells TheWrap that “The money Time’s Up took from people should have always been about helping survivors — it wasn’t.”
“From the beginning, I always felt that even with the really good intentions of some great women on board that it was built to control the narrative and promote people’s films,” Arquette said. “I brought Dr. [Astrid] Heger there early on, who created the forensic rape kit, Noreen Farrell of equal rights advocates, so many important people who actually get the work done. But at the time there wasn’t any interest early on. This should never have been about huge CEO salaries. The money Time’s Up took from people should have always been about helping survivors — it wasn’t.”
Arquette continued: “The legal defense fund is wonderful on many levels. And Fatima Goss Graves is a great advocate for survivors. I’d like to see it be all about the legal defense fund that helps survivors. I’m happy to see at least Ashley Judd was asked to be involved in the beginning because many of the [Harvey] Weinstein survivors were not included in anything. The [Golden] Globes didn’t even mention the horror of Weinstein, but Oprah [Winfrey]’s speech was stunning, for sure. The Dear Sisters letter that Monica Ramirez penned and she and America [Ferrera] partnered with great women. I’d like to see that early passion that fueled this in the first place and help survivors in the healing.”
The news of the board resignations comes a week after Bandele was named to replace Tina Tchen, a former Obama adviser who stepped down under fire.
The nonprofit group, which was created three years ago to protect and support survivors of sexual assault amid the growing #MeToo era, has been besieged over the past month since it was revealed that its leadership had been working with ex-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to mitigate accusations of sexual misconduct against him. The revelations led to the resignations last month of board chairwoman Roberta Kaplan and CEO Tina Tchen.
Bandele, previously the group’s chief operating officer, has been tasked with building back up the organization, which has been harshly criticized for prioritizing its connections with powerful people rather than the well-being of survivors.
As TheWrap previously reported, many have questioned if the organization that was created in 2018 by a focused group of powerful women in entertainment, media and politics would be able to create change, or if it was destined to be co-opted by the very systems their stated aim was to disrupt. Others have also complained about the group’s increased advocacy in non-MeToo issues, including public statements about racial equity at the Golden Globes and Scarlett Johansson’s contract dispute with Disney over “Black Widow.”