Since its inception in early 2018, Time’s Up has turned from “30 women in a room” in Hollywood, to an “international cross-industry, incredible sisterhood,” says Natalie Portman. The Oscar winner has been a vocal supporter of the initiative and says it has helped more than 3,500 women across different fields fight for a fair and dignified workplace. The organization’s legal defense funds have reached McDonald’s workers, prison guards, military officers, and led to Time’s Up branches in tech, journalism, medicine, politics, and more, she says.
Portman says the movement, inspired by Tarana Burke, who created the #MeToo campaign, has opened her eyes to how prevalent sexual harassment is in the workplace.
“One of the reasons that there aren’t women in the workplace is because they’re experiencing this kind of abuse and either have been pushed out forcibly, or have opted out because they were so disgusted by the situation … and you realize this abuse is so pervasive,” Portman says.
She says anyone who is marginalized or harassed deserves to feel safe and respected in a working environment, and that includes people in Hollywood. In the past, critics would say actors like her were lucky to do what they love and get paid well, and therefore could not complain. However, Portman says that isn’t the case, as her conversations with other women have showed her that they are often treated worse than men.
“When we talked together, there was this outrageous coincidence of experience that so many of us had been regularly paid less than male co-stars, that had been treated poorly, that hadn’t had the opportunity to even spend time together. It almost felt like [we had] systematically been separated from each other, that prevented us from sharing our experiences,” Portman says.
Thus, her advice to younger women is to be open with one another so they can create a system of support.
“The next generation of women should definitely spend time together,” Portman says. “It’s only something we’ve recently started doing as women in this industry and it has completely changed everything, and it’s such a different feeling to walk into a room and have a bunch of friends in that room and to be able to prop each other up.”