Mila Kunis Pens Essay on Hollywood Sexism, And How It Has Threatened Her Career
The actress posted an open letter to husband Ashton Kutcher’s website A Plus, revealing how she was once told: "You'll never work in this town again."
Mila Kunis penned an open letter to the Hollywood producer who told her she would "never work in this town again" after she refused a provocative photo shoot for a men's magazine.
On husband Ashton Kutcher's website A Plus, the actress details in the piece — titled "You'll Never Work In This Town Again..." — how she was on a promotional tour for a film and was asked by a producer to "pose semi-naked on the cover of a men's magazine" as a way to help promote the film.
When Kunis refused, that's when the producer threatened her future in show business.
"'I will never work in this town again?' I was livid," she writes. "I felt objectified, and for the first time in my career I said 'no.' And guess what? The world didn't end."
Kunis cited gender bias and the pay gap in today's workplace as reasons why her story from the past remains relevant today: "It’s what we are conditioned to believe — that if we speak up, our livelihoods will be threatened; that standing our ground will lead to our demise."
She continues, "Throughout my career, there have been moments when I have been insulted, sidelined, paid less, creatively ignored, and otherwise diminished based on my gender. And always, I tried to give people the benefit of the doubt; maybe they knew more, maybe they had more experience, maybe there was something I was missing. I taught myself that to succeed as a woman in this industry I had to play by the rules of the boy's club. But the older I got and the longer I worked in this industry, the more I realized that it's bullshit! And, worse, that I was complicit in allowing it to happen."
The actress and mother said she then started a production company with three other women and detailed the challenges that have developed from trying to get various projects greenlighted.
A particular instance involved an email chain which the actress intercepted from "an influential producer" who was attached to the project in its pitching stage. Kunis shared a portion of the correspondence in her piece:
"And Mila is a mega star. One of biggest actors in Hollywood and soon to be Ashton’s wife and baby momma!!!”
Kunis said the idea of being "reduced to nothing more than my relationship to a successful man and my ability to bear children" as opposed to being recognized for her and her team's "significant creative and logistical contributions," forced them to abandon their involvement in something that she described as being "an important social issue."
The actress made it clear that her goal was not to "vilify" the man in question or the industry at large. She reinforced the fact that "blind gender biases are embedded in every facet of our life."
She then vowed to no longer tolerate or glaze over these instances of feeling the sting of being bullied based on her gender.
"I’m done compromising; even more so I’m done with being compromised," she writes. "So from this point forward, when I am confronted with one of these comments, subtle or overt, I will address them head on."
She concluded, "I will work in this town again, but I will not work with you."
Read the full essay here.