Jill Soloway, Writer, Director & Producer
Jill Soloway talks about her childhood, the breakout hit "Transparent," and how she became the third women ever to win the Emmy for best directing for a comedy series.
Michelle Kydd Lee, Chief Innovation Officer, CAA
Christy Haubegger, Founder, Latina Magazine
Lena Waithe, Writer & Actor
Roberta Kaplan, United States V. Windsor Attorney
Saru Jayaraman, Monica Ramirez, Mily Trevino-Saceda & Jenna Watanabe | 2018 MAKERS Conference
MICHELLE KYDD LEE: If you just get the chance, if someone just gives you the chance, you can show them what you're capable of. And then you can go change the world.
I was born in rural Maine, a teeny tiny little town in the middle of nowhere Maine. My parents were both teachers. And so my brother and I grew up in a household where service and community were absolutely a part of everything that you did. If something happened to a neighbor, then everybody pitched in, and you were there for each other.
It was a pretty idyllic childhood, but I dreamed of something that was very cosmopolitan and very fast moving. So I got a Volkswagen Jetta, and filled it with my stuff. And I drove across the country.
There's a certain kind of person who does great in the field. And what I realized is that's where I'm not going to do a great job. What I should do is go back home, and get people to care about this issue. As I'm trying to explain to people what is happening on the other side of the planet, I met a guy in a diner. And he said, you really should come work with us at CAA. And I didn't think anything of it.
And then I start getting these phone calls from CAA. Come to find out, he was now the brand new president of CAA, and he was calling to offer me a job to start something new. If the leaders of the company were dedicated to doing something meaningful, then this could actually be one of the great opportunities of my life. And so I jumped, and said, let's just build it.
I literally started on the very first day that the partners took over this new leadership role. The vision that they had was, how do you take somebody with a nonprofit sensibility, put them in the middle of showbiz? And it was sort of like a chemistry experiment. And at the time, there weren't companies that were doing this. There was no corporate social responsibility. There was no cause-related marketing or pro-social branding.
So a lot of it was to have a keen understanding of what was happening in the zeitgeist. For example, climate change was something that we could actually help with. Former Vice President Gore came into our office, and gave a slideshow. And we made sure that there was a filmmaker, and a producer, and potentially some money people in the room. From there becomes "An Inconvenient Truth." We just added rocket fuel to the movement.
When I started, there were 300 people that worked at our company. And now we have over 2,000 people all over the world. What matters here is, how good are your ideas and how much work are you going to put behind it? This is an economic imperative. This is a business directive. We want to be the leader in the business of diversity inclusion. That's a really good market to be in.
I think this is an amazing time to be a young woman in our country, to be a part of a moment in time where they are seeing ceilings shatter all around. And our job as the adults right now is to not mess things up. And that optimism and hope are actually going to be the thing that win the day.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, Ava DuVernay.
AVA DUVERNAY: Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you. It's so funny, wherever I go, I know I'm going to hear glory. I walk out, they play Glory. It's going to follow me forever, but I don't mind. Listen, I'm here today-- this is Makers, let's give it around, I'm really excited that this is getting started. Really cool, really cool. We're starting it off with some tremendous, tremendous women. No time to waste, I'm just going to get them on out here, and we're going to have a conversation about Time's Up. Because it is. Here we go, Maha Dakhil, Rashida Jones, Melina Matsoukas, Natalie Portman, Tina Chen, Nina Shaw, and Jill Soloway.
This is basically the Avengers. In real life. So happy to be here with you all, and what we're really just going to do is dive into Time's Up, a real intimate conversation about the inner workings, the origins, the future, the intention, so that we can all leave here on the exact same page. That it goes beyond a cool thing that happened at the Globes, or some headlines, and you will really get inside of it and know exactly what we're doing, right? All right, so what the hell is this thing? Who can give us the overview, the logline, for folks who've never heard of Time's Up? Maha.
MAHA DAKHIL: Hi, everybody. Time's Up. Well, the overview and the origin, it really began when Donald Trump was elected. And it was a shot heard around the nation. And I like to think that Time's Up is born of a collective consciousness. I think the reason why this came together so quickly and so speedily, you know, specifically in response to the allegations that you've all heard in Hollywood in terms of sexual harassment. But I think even before that, I think women have been feeling very marginalized and oppressed since, you know, this shocking turn of events happened in our country. And when, in Hollywood, it happened in such a affronting way, we had to respond to it.
So, in terms of how it began, it began in so many different ways. But a few of my colleagues, Michelle Kydd Lee, Hylda Queally, Christy Haubeggar, a few of us sat around and basically just made a list of all the women we knew who were as outraged. And one good thing about agents is we can convene easily and so we invited all these folks and dozens of others of incredibly courageous, wonderful women in our industry to sit around a table and start brainstorming about what we could do.
AVA DUVERNAY: I think it's important to know who the "we" is. So you have agents, you hire private lawyers, you have writers, producers, directors, actors, screenwriters, public advocates, the group is pretty large. It is really multifaceted and very robust. Really dynamic when you get in the room with all of these women that touch different parts of the entertainment industry in different categories. Jill, can you talk a little bit about, because I know that you've been, you know, facilitating some of the smaller convenings.
JILL SOLOWAY: Yeah.
AVA DUVERNAY: But how is it to have all of these women in a room together, and these are powerful, powerful woman, OK? How do we manage that?
JILL SOLOWAY: Yeah, I mean Ava, you know. It's like a dream come true, right? What is happening? We've been, we've all been waiting for this moment. And so you get in that room at CAA with these women around this huge table, and you go, OK we're all here, and this is real, and the revolution is alive, and let's do it. And it's just so exciting. And to me the thing that's most exciting is a sense of collaboration, where there isn't that question usually of politics, where it's like, well who's going to do that, and whose job is that. Well, that's not my thing.
We're all just saying yes and, yes and, what you want me to do? I got this. Just people are all, you know, filling in this space with their enthusiasm and joy for revolutionary connectivity and changing the world together. And for me, when I saw the Golden Globes and I was like, holy shit. Like, we took over a thing. We took over an awards show, and it worked. I mean.
AVA DUVERNAY: In a very small amount of time, too.
JILL SOLOWAY: Yes, it's just like insane.
AVA DUVERNAY: It is, it is. It's dynamic. It's beautiful to watch and to feel. Nina, can you talk a little bit about the mission? Just the overall mission. We'll let the lawyer do the legality. Let us know what the mission is.
NINA SHAW: It's very simple, it's equity and safety in the workplace. And that can really, you know we like to say at Time's Up we can do anything, but we can't do everything. So the goal was to set a mission that really related not just to the entertainment industry, and frankly, not just to women. That's really covered the cross section, and everyone relates to it. And I think that one of the wonderful things about coming out the way we did at the Golden Globes, or really in January 1st in the different publications, is that we were focused on not just our industry. We were focused on a group of women who had written to our actress sisters in solidarity, and we were writing back to them.
AVA DUVERNAY: Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the things that's important when you hear the logline it's equity and safety in the workplace. One of the things that Time's Up is doing is to really make that intersectional. And I was wondering Rashida if you could talk a little bit about that. Not only being focused on women, or even men who are dealing only with sexual harassment, but it's really about an equity and a safety in all its permutations throughout the industry, right?
RASHIDA JONES: Yeah, completely. Well I think one of the things we were forced to look at when we we're asking for something is what do we want for ourselves and how do we make change in our own backyard first. And I think the biggest thing is we want our industry to reflect the world. And the world's changed. And Hollywood has got to change with it.
So, with that in mind, you know, I think everybody here and everybody in the movement kind of acknowledges that there is no change unless you bring every single person along who has spent time being marginalized, harassed, assaulted. Whether that means you're a person of color, or whether that means you're a woman, whether you know whether that means you're a disabled person, like there's so many people who have been ignored as we deal with the long tail of the patriarchy, frankly. So for us, I think, intersectionality is the hub, it is the absolute centerpiece of everything that we do.
AVA DUVERNAY: Tina, can you give us, you know I have to ask you the heavy lifting questions. Can you talk a little bit about the strategy going forward, specifically as it relates to the Legal Defense Fund?
TINA CHEN: Well, I'll tell you, one of the great things about Time's Up, and I think the reason it has spoken to so many people across the country, is that everyone here in the entertainment industry really knew they wanted to reach out beyond this industry, and really reach folks who don't have as much means and privilege. And an ability to speak for themselves without fear of losing their jobs or harming their family. And we have real life examples of that, where people who were speaking out are getting sued, you know, for defamation to silence them. Or low income women who don't, you know, have enough damages that a lawyer will actually take their case. So the folks here, the leaders at Time's Up really said we want to do something. And that's where, so I'm a lawyer, that's my background.
AVA DUVERNAY: That why I ask you legal questions.
TINA CHEN: But we knew the only way to help-- You know, one of the real tangible ways that people need help right now is to get them lawyers. Is to get lawyers across the country and sometimes a lot of the big firms that do pro-bono work, can't do this work because they've got conflicts with big companies. So you've got small lawyers, who can't afford to do this for free. And that's why we have this Time's Up Legal Defense Fund.
So $20 million in a month from 20,000 donors across the country, from $5 to millions of dollars. It's been an amazing outpouring of support. Over 200 lawyers have signed up. But I will tell you, we've had over 1,000 requests for help in a month. You know, so the need is clearly there.
AVA DUVERNAY: I haven't heard that number.
TINA CHEN: From all industries. Farm workers, hotel workers, you know, steel workers. I had this steel worker from Indiana reach out to my office. So we've got folks who we thought that was the case, that there are people hurting right now. And Time's Up has really spoken to them. And it's spoken to men and women across the country who need help. Need help getting safety and equity in the workplace.
NINA SHAW: It really spoke to our need to take action. That we didn't want to be a group of people who got in a room and talked about the changes that we wanted to see made. We wanted to be part of that change. And it was so important for us to come out in our very beginning with an action oriented item. What are we going to do? We're going to set up this fund, we're going to invite people who, all people, not just women, not just men, people who fall within the criteria, and then we are going to do something. And that has been I think the hallmark of us as a group. We don't want to just be talk.
TINA CHEN: So I have to give a nod to our sisters that the National Women's Law Center, which is a 45-year-old women's rights organization in Washington D.C. We kind of dropped this idea on them right around Thanksgiving and said, we want to announce it January 1st. So, like, get used to that idea. And they came on board, and it was a big reach for them. But they've given us the infrastructure, the expertise, you know, to get this stirred up. You know, we wouldn't be able to be answering 1,000 requests right now without their assistance. So NWLC.org, if lawyers want to volunteer. For people who are out there watching, if you're a lawyer and you want to volunteer, go to NWLC.org. And we still need donations, so go to the GoFundMe page for Time's Up. And, you know, spread it around.
AVA DUVERNAY: Say the URL again.
TINA CHEN: So it's NWLC, National Women's Law Center, dot org. NWLC.org. If you need help, there is a button on there for you to fill out a form to request help. If you are a lawyer and are able to volunteer your services, please go on there and fill out the form to volunteer. And anyone who can donate or wants to organize a fundraising drive, the GoFundMe page for Time's Up is still up there and we are still expanding our goal because anybody who knows what it's like to pay legal fees knows $20 million is a lot of money, but not a lot of money. It's not that much.
AVA DUVERNAY: Need more. Yeah. One of the things that I really loved about Time's Up is a quest to, and it's just getting started, but a real desire to be intersectional. And I say that word again because it's just incredibly important if we're talking about inclusively that we not just have a narrow view that applies only to us. So me, as a black woman, I can't get completely tunnel vision on the issues of black people and women. I also have to think of native people, I also have to think of Latino people, I also have to think of trans people. I have to think of other people who are not me who need to be included in this conversation. Sometimes that's a push.
And Melina and I work on, she really leads up our, I love the name of the committee. We have a bunch of different committees in Time's Up, but the hottest sounding committee--
NINA SHAW: And hottest.
AVA DUVERNAY: And hottest, the one that's called WOCC, because it's women of color committee. Get it? So she heads that up and we're just getting, we're just trying to find our legs inside of the organization, but I'm going to honestly talk about just transparently how, you know, the challenges that we're coming into and kind of carving identity within a larger movement, and what the goals are for that committee.
MELINA MATSOUKAS: Well like you said, we believe in intersectionality, and there's certain things that affect us that don't affect everybody, and we have to embrace our individualness, you know? And so, woke, stay woke. It's all about making sure all the initiatives with Time's Up include people of color and don't just speak to women's rights, but, you know, people of color we're the most marginalized group of people, historically. And we really want to dismantle systematic racism within our industry, you know? And educate people on bias and prejudice. And, you know, when you talk about safety, there's also racial safety. When you step onto a set and you're the only woman of color on set, like, you're in an unsafe environment. You know, and it's unfair. We're really all joining together to dismantle that power structure. And I think it really starts with the power structure. Who's in the room? Who's making the decisions? And we're trying to change that.
AVA DUVERNAY: Yeah. Absolutely. One thing that I think is so powerful about Time's Up, and I really think, I mean, I know that we would not have had the goodwill and the attention from the press and from the public that we've had if it wasn't for our actress sisters, truly. They are the face, and they put their faces and their careers on the line in a way that a lot of us who work behind the scenes, you know. We can kind of move in and more stealthily, and so I just want to salute our actress sisters, and one of our big leaders in that space is Natalie.
I was going to ask you, it's been a month. I mean, this is crazy. And the reason why this has been able to have such velocity is because of the high profile nature. I just want to let people know, these actresses are, they are warriors. I want to talk a little bit about that contingent because I want to make sure people know it's not just the face of a bunch of people working behind the scenes. Like, you all are real true leaders and architects of this. So just to talk a little bit about how the artists and the actors are fitting into the overall strategy and what those meetings are like.
NATALIE PORTMAN: Well, thank you, that's very kind. And it's been really incredible to gather actresses, because I think something that we realized was that we're usually the only woman at work. And so like many other industries, we walk onto a nearly all-male set and we're usually alone and we rarely get to interact with each other. I've never had, I think Rashida is my only close actress friend until now.
AVA DUVERNAY: We think you all just hang out together.
NATALIE PORTMAN: Yeah.
RASHIDA JONES: Now we do.
NATALIE PORTMAN: Now we do. And so the power of just all being in the room together and sharing our experiences and realizing how much we've been endangered by being isolated, by being the only woman in the work environment. How that extends to other industries too, where if you're the only woman in the room, that endangers you, it isolates you, it prevents you from sharing stories. So if there are predators, you don't talk to each other. So there's this kind of secondary thing about, you know, being the only woman at the table or whatever that is very isolating and endangering. And how empowering it is to be in a room, to be on the same team, to say we refuse to be pitted against each other. There's not only one spot. We're going to make room for all of us.
It's really, really powerful. And it's been really incredible. And we have all these new friends. And it's really great. I also have to, I'm kind of distracted right now, because I see, is there some Baltimore in the house? I love you. I'm freaking out, your movie. Did you guys see Step? If you're in this room, you have to see Step if you haven't seen it. You people are inspiring and incredible. I'm distracted, sorry.
AVA DUVERNAY: Fantastic
TINA CHEN: Called out by Natalie Portman.
AVA DUVERNAY: I want to talk a little bit about, how we're doing on time? Oh yep, there it is. Everybody is very organized here except me. There we go. I wanted to talk a little bit about these big events and how we are essentially just hijacking events. Janelle at the Grammys and you know everyone at the Globes, and we're constantly thinking about ways to take these large cultural moments, shift the conversation when everyone is there. But I want to back up because the Globes was such a, it was a cultural phenomenon in the moment that it happened. That permeated way outside of the room. That signaled a coming together of two, I won't say campaigns, but two different ideas about how to achieve equality, Me Too and Time's Up. And who can talk a little bit about the beautiful kind of intertwining and integration of those two, not in a co-opting of one or the other, but I thought it was a very beautiful side by side, harmonius proclamation of what the two mean. Can anyone give definition to what one is and what the other is and talk about that moment?
JILL SOLOWAY: I mean, I think about it as simply, me too, so time's up. It's all of us, so no more. They just kind of connect.
AVA DUVERNAY: But they are two distinct groups. One of them, you know, founded Me Too, founded years before this current moment, by Tarana Burke, right? And that needs to be acknowledged. Woman of color, alone, does this hashtag, is putting a lot of velocity and attention and grassroots organizing around this, that meets with our moment as Hollywood industry people who saw an opportunity to galvanize.
And I was just, I have to admit, in early meetings where they were like, Me Too activists are coming and they're going to link up with actresses on the red carpet, I was like, that disaster. I was like, don't do that, don't do that. It's not going to work. And it was harmony, and it was beautiful, and just felt so good. And it really signals what we want to be doing, which is holding hands. I'm a conspiracy theorist, I think everything is going to go wrong, so I was like, this is bad. But it was beautiful. Can you talk a little about that?
RASHIDA JONES: I think we feel that way too. I think we sort of saw the worst case scenario, we tried to work backwards from that because what was important is that everybody's acknowledged, right? From Tarana to all of the whistleblowers, it was really important for us with knowledge the brave people that got us to a point where we could have a conversation about how to move forward so this never, ever happens again. And it takes all those steps to get there. And I feel like when you look in hindsight at anything that's happening, it all looks really linear, but when it's happening it feels very stop and start, and kind of fragmented all over the place.
But I think for us, to acknowledge women who have been working in this space for so long, is part of, is moving forward. Because you look at the people who have been here for so long and working on this stuff for so long, you want to say, hey what you have done has got us to this point. So you need to come with us. We need to celebrate you, and in doing that we can all work together to move forward. Because we all want the same things. And that's the truth. And I think it's been really painful for people who do speak up and who have, you know, carried the burden of this work for a really long time to do it on their own. So our job, more than anything, is to bolster that work.
TINA CHEN: I have to say, sort of, having spent eight years in the other White House,
NATALIE PORTMAN: The good one.
TINA CHEN: You know, one of the things that I saw was, you were too fragmented as a women's movement. You know, we've been fragmented for years. And we work in our silos, but women don't live their lives in silos, right? They are doing all these things. They're struggling with their health care, and they're struggling with their childcare, and they're struggling with sexual harassment or all of these things at once. And what's great about Time's Up, as Rashida just said, is bringing everything together.
I've been working on the United State of Women, as lots of folks know, and Dylan knows because we announced the United States of Women two years ago here at Makers. And we're going to keep that going, too. And do it again and bring it to Los Angeles. So watch out for that news. But this is all about bringing everything together. And again, I have to give a lot of credit to the women of Hollywood, who really brought this together, gave voice to it. When people said to me, why did this take off? And I say, it's because people relate to Natalie Portman. And they're sitting in their kitchen table, and it's like, if it is happening to her, and then it's, I can give voice to what's happening to me. And then we can protect them, which is why we have them work that we're doing.
MAHA DAKHIL: And I think the reason that it really worked so beautifully and wasn't the disaster that I knew you were afraid it was going to be, is that it was so authentic and so heartfelt by our actresses. And on their behalf, I can say, I think people project, it must be so amazing, it's such an elitist life. But we've been sitting in these rooms and we're not meeting as actresses, agents, managers, producers, storytellers. We're meeting as women who are just using our resources to shine light on the inequality for women, for people of color, intersectional, as we say that is the forefront and DNA of Time's Up. But I think why it works so beautifully is it was authentic. And it wasn't a stunt and the desire was to profile the activists, not the actresses.
NATALIE PORTMAN: And Monica, who started the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, who reached out to us and really got--
AVA DUVERNAY: That broke it open in such a incredible way.
NATALIE PORTMAN: And she said something that was really moving, which was, she was like, we're silenced, and I'm paraphrasing, she said it much more beautifully, but we're as silenced by the shadows as we are by the limelight. That the women, the farm workers, are told no one cares about you, you're in the shadows. You can't, your voice doesn't matter. And the women in the spotlight are told, you're the elite, no one cares about you, stop whining, stay silent. And the uniformity is just like, shut up, no one cares. And all of our voices matter. Like, our voices don't matter more, our voices don't matter less, we all have stories to tell and need to stop being silent about injustice.
AVA DUVERNAY: Absolutely, well So, I wanted to talk a little bit about the Olympics and, talking about things to hijack, we'll just talk about it. No, no, but when we're thinking about what the next kind of national conversation is going to be, in a couple of weeks, I guess it's a week or something, everyone's going to be talking about that. When we have sisters who have come out and talked about the abuse that they've experienced at the hands of their own coaches, with the US gymnastics team. And just wondering as we move that idea 0 Time's Up and elongate that in other industries and realms, how do you think Time's Up will A. Support that, but also what can women in that industry do? This is an example of how the outreach can permeate different industries. If we use that as an example, how can Time's Up affect them and how can their plight affect what we were thinking about? Have we thought about the gymnasts?
MAHA DAKHIL: I mean, I think that since we have started and launched, it has become a worldwide reaction and phenomenon in a way we weren't expecting. And we know we can't answer it for everybody, but we're hoping that the work that we're doing will amplify and encourage other people in industries to convene as well. It's already beginning, where women in tech, women in advertising, women in New York are meeting tonight across industries. Women in London are meeting.
And we, the words Time's Up, which are our sister Katie McGrath and Rashida coauthored, in one of our very first meetings where we spent so much time just naming it, because we knew it was so important to find a name that was gender neutral, that was a response to the moment, and you can't believe how many names we went through. I'm going to embarrass Natalie, the spirit of Time's Up really began with the next generation. Right there in the room, she brought her daughter Amalia to the meeting and only her baby, only in true Natalie Portman elegance and strength, breastfeeding on the hand, planning the Golden Globes on the other. It really was--
NATALIE PORTMAN: I can't do it here.
MAHA DAKHIL: She almost didn't come because of child care issues, and we were like, no, this is the room. I think we are proof of concept. If you convene women in a room and you brainstorm, look what happened in a matter of weeks. Every other industry can do this, and we want to be there to support, amplify it for everyone that we can. We have no staff, but for one person. We hope to grow the infrastructure here and to project in and be hopefully, the Avengers you think that we are.
TINA CHEN: It's about sustainable change. I think what attracted me in the very first time I heard about it was that this wasn't about just getting stuck in the moment. It was about, how do we actually change our workplaces, and what can we do to actually make sustainable, lasting change. And that's, I think, for the Olympics. What can they do to help change and protect those athletes? What can we do in all of these industries? People deserve to go to work and be safe. Be able to make a living and support their families, you know? And how do we change that so everybody can do that safely and succeed in their jobs and their careers.
AVA DUVERNAY: I think one of the things that I love really love and value about Time's Up is what Nina said, is that the immediate kind of institute, the immediate triggering of the Defense Fund was actionable. It wasn't just us talking up here saying, we should do something and things need to change. That was a way that it will change. But I asked the Olympics question because, I put that to women out here who are in all kinds of different industries, or different cities that might not be a major market. People who were watching the Livestream to point out that some of the infrastructure and some of the ideas that we're working with in Time's Up are there to be duplicated.
And we're also there to learn from and to listen from folks that are doing it way better and way longer than we are, right? And so it's that exchange, but you know, we, like you said, can't touch everyone. But there's an example here, that there's a lot of information on the website. There's a lot of information in different panels that everyone's doing. Just to say this can be duplicated in smaller pods, in different categories, different industries. You don't have to have all the star power or the corporate muscle to meet together and just get in the room and start setting some committees and figuring out how to get things done.
NINA SHAW: Everyone can do something. I think there isn't a day that goes by that I, and I'm sure everyone here, doesn't get a call that says, what can I do to help Time's Up? And I always say, in your place, let's think about what you can do. When someone says something offensive, find a way to connect to them and say, listen, if you pull them aside, if you genuinely believe, listen I think you're a great person. I think you're good at heart, but let me tell you why what you just said probably made half the people in that room uncomfortable. And I want to be the person to tell you that. You can do that in your workplace, among your friends, in your social circles.
When men ask, and men ask all the time, how can we help you? How about in those rooms where you are and we are not, you be our defenders. When someone says something that you know that they would never say in a mixed group of people, you don't have to, you can just say, listen, guy, you know. Let's not go there. Because when we go there, we diminish all these women who we say we love. Or these trans people who we say we support. Or these activists who we say we believe in their causes. So there's something that everyone in this room can do in some way, and in that way we are all part of Time's Up.
AVA DUVERNAY: We have just a couple of minutes left. This is the speed round. Everybody OK? We got real glass in here? Dang, Makers. Really nice. Three rounds, going around to every warrior woman here and ask if there's one thing, logline, that you want people to know about Time's Up and you want to people to take out of this session, what would it be Jill Soloway?
JILL SOLOWAY: 50-50 by 2020. It's an initiative of Time's Up. And we can be found at 5050by2020.com. And what we're doing is going to our own leaders and demanding that we go on 50-50 leadership by 2020. Women, people of color, queer people, disabled people, and other otherized people in positions of power.
AVA DUVERNAY: Good. Rashida Jones?
RASHIDA JONES: I think that every industry deserve to be a reflection of the world the way it is now. 39 percent of this country are people of color. That number will change drastically over time, but every person, whether it's woman, person of color, queer person, disabled person, deserves to be equal. And the way for us to do it is just to encourage in our own industries, however we can, to push this message forward. However we can, we're all doing the same thing.
AVA DUVERNAY: Amen Nina Shaw.
NINA SHAW: Don't be on the outside looking in. Stand up, open that door, come through. I know it's-- And listen, as a woman of color, I really understand that a lot of times you're like, oh those white women they're just doing, don't do that. Come on, seriously. We know that happens. Don't do that. Because we don't want to be in the back when the train pulls out of the station. OK?
AVA DUVERNAY: Amen. Maha Dakhil.
MAHA DAKHIL: I am so excited. I think this is a complete cultural revolution that we're in, that we are so lucky to be alive right now in these crazy times because it is upon us as soldiers, as sisters, and with our brothers to change the world. It's happening now. It's happening overnight. Time's Up is a small reflection of that. It applies to every single person out there. And, as Nina said, you can participate just by changing your own behavior, changing your own outlook. Look at the businesses you support. Are women at the center? Are people of color at the center? Are trans? Ask those questions and there will be ripple effects for years to come.
AVA DUVERNAY: Melina Matsuokas.
MELINA MATSOUKAS: I think, speak up, educate, and fight with us to dismantle white male patriarchy.
AVA DUVERNAY: Simply put, and powerfully put. Natalie Portman.
NATALIE PORTMAN: Gather. Get together with the other women or whatever group you identify with in your workplace to discuss what you can do to change and be radical, be extreme. Be the Che Guevara you are in your dreams.
AVA DUVERNAY: And Tina Chen.
TINA CHEN: Don't be afraid. Part of why this has gone on for so long is the fear that has been imposed upon us. And the silencing that's been imposed upon us. And break through that, don't be afraid. That's why we're all together. We're all in this together. We are, you know, warriors together. That's why we have a Legal Defense Fund for people who need it. For justifiable fear for what they're going through. And that's what we've got to break through. Don't be afraid.
AVA DUVERNAY: Amen. Hashtag raise your voice. Thank you very much for having us. Appreciate you. Have a great conference.
LENA WAITHE: When you're an artist and you're making whatever it is you're making, I think the mission is to walk to it as vulnerable as possible, so that somebody will be able to connect to it.
LENA WAITHE: I grew up on the south side of Chicago. I was in a house full of women. It was my mother, my grandmother, my older sister, my aunt come by a lot. There was a similar thing that they all had, which was a lot of strength, a lot of pride, a lot of integrity, and a nice amount of sass and swag, too. I know a lot of kids watch television, but I really felt like I was immersed in it. I watched, like, "A Different World," "The Cosby Show," "Saved By the Bell," "The Fresh Prince." Even though they were multicam sitcom characters, they still felt very honest and real. And I just kind of got lost in all of those different kind of worlds.
LENA WAITHE: Getting a chance to work for all these talented black women, who were just sort of playing hacky sack with me for a couple years, just being the most excited person on set, and having a really great attitude and there being nothing that I would say no to doing, it was really the beginning of my life in scripted television.
LENA WAITHE: I went to New York to talk story ideas with Allen and Aziz and some of the other writers. And in the midst of just having a conversation, Alan asked how I came out. And I proceeded to tell them not thinking it was that interesting. And I got back to my hotel, and they both called me and said, we want to do an episode about that. And Aziz was like, you have to help write it, because it's so specific. And it's your story, and I can't write that by myself.
DENISE: I'm gay.
- You what?
DENISE: I'm gay. I've always been gay, but I'm still the same person. I'm still your daughter.
LENA WAITHE: Telling the coming out story, I had to step in my mother's shoes as well. And I think it actually gave me a greater understanding of what it's like to be come out to. It was about telling an honest story about two people who are trying to figure something out. And I think that's what most coming out stories are. I really wanted people to see the love more than the fear or confusion, and I think they really got it.
LENA WAITHE: My LGBQTIA family, I see each and every one of you. The things that make us different, those are our superpowers. Every day when you walk out the door, put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world, because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren't in it. I do think the things that make me different are my superpowers, because there is no "Thanksgiving" episode if I wasn't born black, gay, and female.
LENA WAITHE: "The Chi" is about being black and human on the south side of Chicago. It's not about drugs. Nobody's singing or rapping. I was more interested in the middle class, the working class community, because that's what I'm from. When you're a working class person with a dream, it's like a pressure cooker, because every day is a choice to fight the good fight, to chase the dream. I know we're not perfect, but we're not all bad either. There's always these demons that we're wrestling with, and I wanted to show that in a real way. So that way people start to care about these communities and these people that make them up.
I think there's a lot of storytellers that don't look like the storytellers of yesteryear. A lot of young, black, queer, different people that have never been a part of the culture in a mainstream way. That's the way I want to change the business is by helping to usher in new voices. There's still a lot of others who haven't been included yet. And so until everyone is in the room, I think we still have work to do.
LILY: Saru Jayaraman is one of the founders and the president of ROC, and she is director of the Food Labor Research Center at Berkeley university. Saru is going to tell you about all the work that ROC does and their plans for their future. Saru Jayaraman.
Thank you so much to Lily. She's amazing. She's an amazing spokesperson for these issues. So as you heard, my name is Saru. I am the director and founder of Restaurant Opportunity Centers United, ROC United. We're a national organization that has grown over the last 16 years. Really following the explosion in the industry.
The restaurant industry, as you heard from Lily, right now is the second largest and absolute fastest growing sector of the US economy. It's almost 13 million workers. One in eleven Americans currently works in the industry. One in two of us in America and in this room has worked in the industry at some point in our lifetime.
How many of you worked in the restaurant industry at some point in your life? Will you look around the room? This industry touches all of us, and it especially touches women. And it impacts our lives for the rest of our lives in so many ways.
Because this industry is the largest and fastest growing, but it continues to be the absolute lowest paying, and that is because of the money, power, and influence of a trade lobby called the National Restaurant Association, which represents the Fortune 500 chains. The Applebee's, the IHOPs, the Olive Gardens.
And it turns out that this trade lobby has been around since emancipation of the slaves when it first demanded in an earlier form that they not pay their workers at all. A mostly black, former slave workforce. Pay them a $0 wage and let them live on tips. And that idea of a $0 wage was made law in 1938 as part of the New Deal. And we went from a $0 wage in 1938 to a whopping $2.13 an hour in 2018.
And a $2 wage increase for women over an 80 year period. And over that 80 year period, the Restaurant Association has said, it's OK. These are white guys working in fancy fine dining steakhouses. They're making a lot of money in tips. When in fact, 70% of tipped workers in America are women. They are women working at those same restaurants-- IHOP, Applebee's, Olive Garden.
They suffer from three times the poverty rate of the rest of the US workforce and the highest rates of sexual harassment of any industry. Because when you're a woman earning $2, and $3, and $4 an hour in 43 states, your wage is so low it goes entirely to taxes. You're living on your tips. You must put up with whatever the guy does to you, however they touch you, or treat you, or grab your butt because your income, your base pay comes from the customer, not from your employer.
And besides the millions of women that put up with this every day of their lives, there are millions more young women, our daughters, in fact, many of us, for whom this is the first job in high school, college, or graduate school in which we are taught, encouraged, told by managers, dress more sexy, show more cleavage, wear tighter clothing in order to make more money in tips.
And that has led to so many actresses, senators, and celebrities saying to us, you know, I've been sexually harassed more recently in my career and I didn't do anything about it because it was never as bad as it was when I was a young woman working in restaurants. Which means our industry is not only the worst on this issue, it sets the standard for the rest of the economy for women.
But there's good news on the horizon. As you heard, seven states got rid of this ridiculously lower wage. California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Minnesota, Montana, and Alaska. They require the employer to pay the full minimum wage with tips on top. And we have half the rate of sexual harassment in these states. It proves the point that this is an issue about power.
Because when a woman has power, when she actually gets a wage from her boss, she doesn't have to put up with anything and everything from the customers. And she actually doesn't have to be told by her manager, dress more sexy, show more cleavage, wear tighter clothing to make more money in tips because she doesn't feed her family entirely on tips.
Even better news, there are 500 restaurant owners across the country from Danny Meyer, to Tom Colicchio, Alice Waters, and many more that are working with us to change this policy in many more states. And thanks to Me Too and Time's Up, the Golden Globes, which I was at, and so much more attention that we've gotten over the last few months thanks to the leaders of this movement.
Governor Cuomo just announced, thanks to Me Too, that he will make New York the eighth state to eliminate the lower wage for tipped workers. It is a huge victory. And we're also moving this issue on the ballot in the state of Michigan where we have some of the poorest women in the country working in Detroit and upstate Michigan for $3.52 an hour.
These are women who largely don't vote, feel completely rejected by the political system entirely, are suffering from enormous levels of poverty and sexual harassment, and are excited to go to the polls to vote themselves an actual wage. This is how we're going to turn this country around. By giving these women an actual wage and a voice, and half the rate of sexual harassment.
There is also some bad news. President Trump has announced a new rule that would make tips the property of owners rather than workers. This would exacerbate sexual harassment in our industry by forcing women who already have to put up with harassment from customers to turn around and face it from their managers who now have the right to keep their tips.
But I just told you how we can win. It's women from different sectors standing together and saying, we all face these issues. We all need more power. And together, we can win it. We won it with Governor Cuomo. We can win it in Michigan. We can win it across the country and in every sector. And that is why I'm so happy to be joined by women, sisters, from other sectors as well today.
First I want to introduce Jenna Watanabe, who is a member leader of ROC and also a restaurant worker for 15 years. Also Monica Ramirez. Monica Ramirez who has achieved stardom. She is one of the leaders of the Farm Worker Alliance, has spent her life fighting for women in farm, among farm workers, and actually wrote a letter on behalf of farm workers to Hollywood calling for this kind of solidarity that has led to the victory we're seeing now.
And Mily Sauceda who also-- Trevino-Sauceda, excuse me, who is actually the founder of the Farm Workers Alliance and was a farm worker herself for many years. Thank you so much to all of you for being here with me. Jenna, do you want to start by sharing your own experiences in the restaurant industry?
JENNA WATANABE: Yeah, absolutely. So thank you, Saru, and thank you everyone at the MAKERS Conference for inviting me here. And I just want to call out all the really courageous women and voices that we've been hearing, and also the women that we haven't been able to hear from that may not be able to speak up or raise their voice at this time.
So my background, I worked in restaurants for 15 years. I spent 11 years working as a server in Salt Lake City, Utah and I spent four of those in San Francisco, California. And let me tell you the differences are astonishing. In Salt Lake City, you make $2.13 an hour as a server, which means that all of your income comes from tips. Which means that your income is totally reliant on the kindness of strangers or, in my opinion, the approval of strangers.
When I moved to San Francisco four years ago, that was the first time I actually got paid the same minimum wage as everyone else. Something that was actually above $2 an hour, which started at $10.74 and it's now up to $15 this year. So one of the things that was the most challenging aspect of working in Salt Lake City making $2.13 an hour and working off of tips was dealing with all of the disadvantages that came with that.
So you have income instability. If you are sick for a week, then a quarter of your month's salary is gone. There were four or five months-- it was very seasonal. So there were four or five months where I would be stressed if I could even pay rent. And then probably the most undisclosed but just commonly known is the really, I would say, very sexist undertones that kind of permeate the industry.
Unfortunately, it comes from all different types of people. Not just from the guests, but also from the managers, also from the coworkers. Unfortunately, I have a story that kind of encapsulates this. I was actually taking an order for a family once and I remember asking a little boy how he wanted his steak cooked. And right at that moment I felt this right on my butt.
And I turned and it was a stranger. A man I had never seen before. And he just gave me the sleaziest little, shh. And I didn't know what to do. I was in sever mode. And all I knew was, OK, I have to play it cool. I can't react because if I do, I could lose my job. I could lose tips. I could not make money. So regretfully and painfully, I didn't do anything.
When I went to the back of the kitchen, my behind the scenes, I was met with an even more disappointing response. A lot of my coworkers told me to just take the compliment. A lot of them told me to go out there, ask for money. And unfortunately, one of my managers told me that I should appreciate it while I'm young because when I'm older I'm not going to be getting this kind of attention.
So that was my experience working in fine dining. Imagine what it's like for women that don't work in fine dining. Imagine what it's like for women who are just starting their jobs out. And she was mentioning earlier Applebee's. All those areas, those places where women are starting out and they're just getting exposed to this really toxic culture.
I want to say that a lot of women deal with much more difficult things than what I experienced. And I think it's time that-- well, first of all, I want to acknowledge that there's a lot of restaurant employers that don't respond that way and that they should be honored. But for the ones that are abusive, for the ones that do continue this, that's why I'm a leader in fighting for one fair wage with ROC. Because honestly, the abusiveness of the restaurants' time's up.
SARU JAYARAMAN: This is no less of a problem among farm worker women. And so Monica, we'll start with you. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started with this work and the work [INAUDIBLE]?
MONICA RAMIREZ: Right. Thank you. Good afternoon, everyone. I come from a migrant farm worker family. My family's used to crisscross the country working in the fields. Picking cotton, and cucumbers, and other crops. And so both sides of my family, my mother's side of the family and my father's side of the family were able to settle out of agriculture and stay in one place year round, which was in Ohio where I was born and grew up.
And as I was growing up, my parents really wanted us to understand our history, understand where we come from. And specifically, they wanted us to know about the conditions of migrant farm workers. And so they talked to us a lot about the fact that farm workers are underpaid, sprayed with pesticides, exposed to dangerous working conditions.
And growing up hearing all the stories of the things that my family members had gone through working in the fields, that really was what inspired me to dedicate my career and my work to representing migrant farm workers. I went to law school to become a farm worker attorney and in 2002 was able to found the first legal project in the United States specifically focused on representing migrant farm worker women.
Because migrant farm worker women face not just wage theft and being exposed to pesticides and other dangerous conditions, but sexual harassment is a major problem for farm worker women. And the few reports that exist tell us that 80% to 90% of farm worker women say that sexual harassment is a major problem.
And it's so common that the fields are referred to as green motels and fields of panties. And so my work is very much focused on representing farm worker women and joining in solidarity with farm worker women to solve this problem because we know it's one that has long lasting consequences. And so that's how I came to the work.
And in the course of creating the first project that I mentioned to you, which started in Florida, I reached out to Mily Trevino-Sauceda who is my mentor and has been my mentor for almost 20 years. And Mily created the first farm worker women's project in the United States in the state of Florida called [SPANISH].
And really, through Mily's leadership and mentorship, I was able to really kind of find my own voice as an activist and advocate. And because of Mily's vision, a number of us worked together for many years-- you know, almost I guess 20 years, and in Mily's case, for almost 30 years-- specifically focusing on the problems of farm worker women.
And as a result of all the work that we were doing all around the country as lawyers, as social workers, as activists, there was this idea that emerged in 2010 to create the first national farm worker women's organization that would bring all of us together. And so actually, I want to just take a minute to call out the fact that we have some of our hermanas here with us today.
So [INAUDIBLE] from La Mujer Obrera. [? Alvida ?] [? Carbajal ?] from the Farm Worker Association of Florida.
[INAUDIBLE] from the Worker Justice Center of New York. These are just some of our members, but today we now have 17 organizational members around the country, all of whom are working specifically to address the issues that impact farm worker women, and really came from the vision of Mily to organize all of us and bring us together.
And we now work advocating and organizing from the fields to Capitol Hill. And we are pushing to ensure that farm worker women no longer experience workplace sexual violence, but that they also do not have to confront wage theft and some of the other issues that I mentioned.
And so I want to give an opportunity for Mily to talk about her vision and sort of what's brought us here today as a greater movement. So Mily, will you talk to us a little bit about your vision for the farm worker women's movement and how you started it?
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: OK. As Monica said-- gracias, Monica. [SPANISH] I do come from a migrant farm worker family. I did start working as I was eight years old. We were migrants, some of us. We were ten children in our family and it was very, very hard. And we went through so much. Some of us were born in the state of Washington, others in Idaho, and others in Mexico, and it was very, very hard.
So not until we arrived in California was when we, we learned about the United Farm Workers movement. And our family, I was working with my, my father and my brothers picking lemons. It's a hard, very hard labor. You have to as you pick and fill up the sack, it's 90 pounds. And that's 16 of those sacks in the bin.
So we would have to, like, get three, four, or five different bins during the year. The, the day. Excuse me. And not only that, it was all the issues that our families confronted. And not only us, it was the pesticide drift, women being discriminated because if they were pregnant, that you could not, you were not allowed or there were some jobs you were not allowed to, to be in.
And there were just different issues. The exploitation. All that. Our family learned about the UFW and we-- we started organizing with. And UFW was only involved with grape workers and we were lemon pickers, so we, we did that kind of organizing.
And it was a life experience because from there, I wanted to organize everywhere. But of course, in other places I was fired. It was very easy to fire people. Especially women. So but with time, our family was very well known in the Coachella Valley here in California.
And so with time, I started doing other kinds of jobs and then we did a needs assessment with farm worker women in the late '80s. I was an organizer. I was doing a lot of things and, and working with legal services, helping out and whatsoever.
But then when we did this, the needs assessment, it was very, very interesting because the needs assessment was bringing out the issues of farm worker women. The women were sharing their, how they felt. What were their experiences about housing issues, worker related, even harassment.
But they never said it happened to me. It happened to someone else they knew. The domestic violence, the violence against women, the discrimination. Everything was happening to someone else. While I was organizing in the fields, I was sexually harassed not only once, I was sexually harassed many times. And why? Because I was, I was raised very, very, very traditional.
And so when I had the chance or I wanted to talk about what was going on when the person was harassing me, I went to my dad and my dad, bless his heart, he didn't know how to deal with it. So he started instead of asking me, started questioning me. So I silenced myself. I just cried. And from there on, I just didn't want to talk about it.
And it, it happened at other times in the same place, and then in other companies the same thing to the point that I did, I silenced myself. I didn't talk to anybody about it. I was afraid, I was ashamed, I felt shame, all that. And then not until we did the needs assessment-- that was like 10, 10 years after. Or 11 years after.
The women were sharing that that was happening to someone else. And I remember saying the same thing. It happened to someone else. So just to make this shorter-- because people that know me know I talk a lot-- but what, what happened from there on is that the women were sharing stories where it was the first time many of them said, someone was really interested in hearing their story.
And so when we, when they shared that, it was interesting because then they said, we asked them actually, you are sharing with us all these problems and issues. Do you think there, there's, do you have recommendations or you think something can be done?
The majority of them in their own words were saying to me-- oh, mind you, a lot of them were complaining about what was, if the services were being given good, good services, and they all complain about the services. But just at the end they said, if there could be an opportunity for us to organize or actually get together to support each other, to do things, to do something for others, then let's get together.
And that's how we started that movement. We never thought it was going to become a movement. We just wanted to get the women together. And the women themselves-- right now the woman that, one of the women that was the co-founder, one of the co-founders, [INAUDIBLE], she's 96 years old and she's still working with us as one of our organizers.
Talking about since 1988 until now, OK? So I'm very happy for that. We started that movement with the [INAUDIBLE] Campesinas here in California, and this is how we started meeting other women in other parts and met Monica. And then we organized more women and blah, blah, blah. OK, [INAUDIBLE]?
MONICA RAMIREZ: So Mily, what would you, what would your advice be to folks in the room or folks who are watching via live stream about how to get started as an activist from the lessons that you've learned?
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: You know, one of the, one of the biggest things that I would like to share is this. We-- even we, even if we come from the community that we want to be targeting to work with, we're not the saviors. Let's listen. What helped me was listening to what was going on with these women because then they helped organize, help us organize more, more surveys.
And listening, and then believing that they have the strength, and it's about us supporting and helping them so that they can enhance their leadership. It's, it's just, I mean, if we trust, we, we believe in them, we have the patience. I mean, we all are very resilient. So let's believe in each other. Let's trust each other.
Because we are very smart. We're bad ass. And we call ourselves chingones in Spanish, which means bad ass women.
MONICA RAMIREZ: So there are a lot of things that are happening politically, and certainly it's been difficult with some of the immigration enforcement that we're seeing. You know, more than half of migrant farm workers in our country are undocumented. And so for farm worker women who are undocumented, threats of violence against them by perpetrators who use their immigration status is a huge concern.
And it's one that we've been trying to advocate on for a long time to get a new immigration bill passed. So will you tell us a little bit about what you believe some of the priorities are for your industry and what, what members of Congress or other politicians can do to help?
SARU JAYARAMAN: Yes, so first there's something everybody can do, which is that we have an app that tells you how restaurants fare on issues of wages, benefits, and promotion practices. You can find it at our website, rocunited.org. You can use it to communicate with restaurant owners. Say, I love the food here, love the service, but I'd love to see you do better on your wages or I'd love to see you get an award in this app.
But policy wise, you know, as Jenna mentioned and I said, we need one fair wage. We need it. It's such a reasonable request. Let women in this country be paid an actual wage from their employer rather than having to rely on the kindness of customers or tips. Let them have tips above wages as they were always intended to be, and let them keep their tips.
President Trump, let them keep their tips. And we can win that together working together as farm workers and restaurant workers and many other workers across, you know, all of us work. So all of us working together as women to fight for power, greater power and equality on the job.
We just want to close by asking each of us what brings us hope, you know, as we move forward in this work. Do you want to start?
JENNA WATANABE: Sure. I would say something that brings me hope is people that fight for the underdog and really advocate for people who are underrepresented. And then, you know, more importantly, conferences like these that are including voices from all different levels, all different backgrounds. Because let's be honest, it's not feminism unless it's intersectional.
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: I want to read this. And it's short, so, OK. I wrote this. It says, bringing visibility to this issue has opened doors to hope and trust. The power of the collective-- that means that all us, of us working together-- has gone stronger as we work in solidarity to support each other.
We need to support each other. Not just say we're going to collaborate with each other. We will continue strong and we will succeed eradicating the issues that are creating so many problems against us. Let's work together. That's hope. Thank you.
SARU JAYARAMAN: Thank you.
MONICA RAMIREZ: For me, I, all, all of us in this room give me hope, and the fact that we're all here together listening to the issues that impact our lives. And I think certainly from what we saw with Time's Up and what happens at the Golden Globes, of us really looking across sector, across movements to figure out how we can both lean on each other as well as support each other. That gives me hope.
I think that I don't recall ever seeing something like this happen in the way that it's happened in the last couple of months. And I believe that it's by working together and by lifting each other up that we're going to be able to address some of these issues including ending sexual harassment and making sure that people are being paired, paid fair wages. But we have to keep meeting like this, and we have to keep having these conversations in order to make the changes that are required.
SARU JAYARAMAN: Totally. And I would just add what gives me hope is that I have a five and a seven year old, two little girls. And whether they choose to work on a farm and be a farm worker or work in a restaurant, both of which are highly dignified professions with a lot of skill and integrity and should be valued as the professions that they are.
Whatever they choose to do, I will be darned, I will be darned if by the time they grow up they experience what we've experienced or what the women in restaurants and farms experience. I will be darned if all of our daughters experience it because time is up for all of us and for our daughters as well. And I think we can express that power and unity through a unity clap. So Mily, will you lead us in a unity clap?
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: OK. Let's all stand up. All right. The unity clap is that you start clapping slow and then you go quicker and quicker. But then when you do the max, then you go slower, slower, slower, slower. And then we're going to say, can we do it? And you say, yes, we can.
SARU JAYARAMAN: Si, se puede.
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: And then I'll say it in Spanish, si, se puede. You're going to say, si, se puede. OK. Is that too much? OK. All right. OK. Let's start.
Can we do it?
AUDIENCE: Yes, we can!
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: Can we do it?
AUDIENCE: Yes, we can!
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: Se puede!
AUDIENCE: Si, se puede!
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: Se puede!
AUDIENCE: Si, se puede!
MILY TREVINO-SAUCEDA: Thank you. Thank you.