Time’s Up didn’t waste a minute during its inaugural New York City event, presenting a full day’s worth of events on Saturday at the Tribeca Film Festival. The organization, started earlier this year in the wake of allegations against multiple powerful men in the entertainment industry and formed with the hope to finally eradicate sexual harassment in Hollywood and beyond, took over the festival’s downtown hub on the penultimate day of the annual New York fest with a packed slate of conversations and panels involving women from all walks of life.
The program included dozens of participants hitting the main stage, including activists, filmmakers, storytellers, journalists, lawyers, and actresses. Though still in its early stages, the movement has been vocal in its stance that the organization should be focused on the future and healing wounds, not just rehashing the problems it so vehemently wants to eradicate.
A pair of Time’s Up’s most visible members, actresses Julianne Moore and Jurnee Smollett-Bell, helped kick off the event with a shared speech covering a brief history of the organization’s first few months in existence. As Smollett-Bell explained, the members of Time’s Up are looking forward to continuing to craft “tangible solutions” to the problems the org was created to combat, a concept bolstered by the “collective muscle” that the group has already gathered.
“I believe in dialogues, not monologues,” actress, filmmaker, and Time’s Up member Amber Tamblyn explained during the second half of the day, but it was a theme that had carried throughout the event long before it was spoken.
Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement and an longtime activist, was on hand for a pair of panels, and offered up a sage message of the path to come. “What has to happen now is the work,” she said. “Everybody has a part in this, everybody has a lane, everybody has something they can contribute.”
Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival
While the group’s biggest initiative — the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund — has been a key component of the group since its inception, the organization has already spawned a number of related groups to aid women in other industries. Those include Time’s Up Advertising (for the ad industry), Time’s Up Press (for journalists), and Time’s Up Venture (which focuses on women in tech, and has already announced a series of ambitious aims, including doubling the number of female partners in venture technology over the course of the next decade).
Time’s Up is also actively pursuing smaller-scale plans that are decidedly grassroots, including the Plus One Initiative, which was created to connect women in the entertainment industry across all professional levels. Introduced by Desiree Gruber, the founder and CEO of Full Picture, the idea behind Plus One was inspired by, in her words, the simple desire to “get more women in the room where it happens.” The ask behind the plan, known in Time’s Up parlance as +1/x3, is simple: bring one more woman with you to a professional event, then introduce them to three other women she should know.
Women eager to participate in the plan don’t even need be that rigid about it, and Gruber emphasized the importance of practicing its methodology with “quick hits throughout the day,” by simply bringing more women into the professional fold. See a woman who is struggling? Ask them if they need help. Know a woman who would benefit from a quick intro? Do it. Have your own professional questions? Ask another woman.
As Gruber explained, the effects are satisfying and immediate, and can directly result in more women picking up “confidence and a confidant.”
And the Legal Defense Fund hasn’t been slacking. In introducing a panel filled with some of the legal minds behind the fund, Time’s Up member Marisa Tomei announced that the fund, designed to assist survivors of sexual harassment or retaliation across all industries, has already raised $21M in funding and helped more than 2,500 individuals since its inception earlier this year. Not too shabby.
A Changing Culture
Moore and Smollett-Bell’s opening remarks pointed to another recurring theme of the day: how much Time’s Up is focused on inclusion and intersectionality among its membership. Beyond the known star power onstage, Time’s Up Day also included speeches and panels with women pushing for justice in industries outside of Hollywood, including farm workers, restaurant employees, and representatives from the hotel union.
As Moore said, “every woman has a story to tell,” but that doesn’t discount the contributions that people who don’t identify as women can make to pushing towards the kind of equality and safety that the organization is championing. United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka explained in her own rousing speech, “everyone benefits in a gender-equal society.”
Such a push toward equality has also begun to be more recognized in entertainment culture, and the various participating panelists spoke that shift, including a group of actresses assembled to discuss “Reclaiming the Narrative,” including Lupita Nyong’o, Cynthia Erivo, Mira Sorvino, and Tamblyn.
Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival
Nyong’o was particularly effusive about how she’s been able to use her rising status in the industry (one Oscar, so far) to flip the script on the stories being told. “Part of changing the narrative is changing the perspective,” she said, a sentiment she continues to put into action through her projects, many of them centered on African stories, including upcoming adaptations of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book “Americanah” and Trevor Noah’s memoir “Born a Crime.”
Time’s Up member and actress Sienna Miller was also on hand to introduce a panel of some of Hollywood’s most unique female filmmakers currently working today, and she noted that such a panel spoke to the desire for more “honest, inclusive, and representative stories” to be told. The group included directors Haifaa Al-Mansour, Kimberly Reed, Jennifer Fox, and producer Lisa Cortes, who all spoke about their newest projects and the rapidly changing nature of the industry at large.
And while the tone of that panel was mostly positive, its participants also acknowledged that change wasn’t going to be easy, and would continue to require many people to ask for more from those in positions of power. As Cortes wryly said of a common excuse when it comes to hiring more diverse talent, “The argument that ‘I don’t know anybody’ is bullshit.”
Mostly, though, the event was set on galvanizing the importance and power of a movement still in its infancy, one that will only continue to work with the active and loud participation of many. Mlambo-Ngucka put it succinctly at the end of her talk, telling a room full of eager participants: “We have to end this and we have to end this together.”
Learn more about Time’s Up at its official website.