According to the Beverly Hills Police Department, more than 1,500 people, including agents, clients, and supporters, gathered in the plaza to protest the Trump administration’s policies, including its recent travel restrictions on seven Muslim-majority countries. The agency canceled its annual Academy Awards party in protest of the ban and organized this event in its place.
“This is exactly the way to celebrate our industry and our commitment to humanity on and off screen,” Foster said. “I don’t do this very often, but this year is a different year, this is a singular time — it’s time to show up, time to engage. As the very dead Frederick Douglass once said, ‘any time is a good time for illumination.'”
“It’s time to resist and demand answers, to tell our elected officials to do their job,” she said as the crowd cheered. “We will not tolerate chaos and ineptitude and war-mongering.”
UTA will be donating $250,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union and the International Rescue Committee.
The event was a reflection of the political tone of this awards season and Oscar week. On Thursday, CAA hosted an all-day “Take Action” event that featured Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and former Senator Barbara Boxer, now a CAA client.
The idea for the UTA event came from Jeremy Zimmer, and some of the agency’s clients praised the org for doing something different this week.
“I am very proud of this agency. They stand for more than movies and TV,” said Wilmer Valderrama, a longtime client.
He, like many others who spoke, focused on immigration.
Michael J. Fox talked of how it took about eight years for him to obtain U.S. citizenship, but contrasted that to the experience of so many other immigrants who “are struggling to keep their families alive and keep food in their mouths and disease away from their bodies and they take tremendous risk to get here … And then we say ‘No’?”
“It’s an assault on human dignity.”
Author and CNN host Reza Aslan introduced a video segment of Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, nominated for “The Salesman.” He decided to boycott this year’s ceremony after Trump issued his executive order that would have prevented him from traveling to the U.S. for the ceremony.
There were a smattering of Trump supporters in the crowd, but no disruptive incidents.
A number of the speakers also talked about the importance of artistic freedom at this moment.
“We must speak for those who cannot speak. We must write and act and sing and paint for those who cannot express themselves, for those who feel they are being left behind, who feel they are not being represented,” said Keegan-Michael Key.
Others noted how Hollywood, often a punching bag of the right, was actually embracing themes of pluralism and inclusion like the rest of the state. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said that “California values” must “drive them crazy.”
“As California goes, so goes the United States of America,” he said.
The event ended with a performance by Ben Harper, who also got in a quip about Trump.
“I tried to get into the press conference today,” he said. “They wouldn’t let me in.”