Ava DuVernay, Natalie Portman Talk "Time's Up" at Makers Conference

Courtesy of Makers Conference
The 2018 Makers Conference

What is the "Time's Up" movement doing for women who need legal aid? Quite a lot, actually.

After the paradigm-shifting global spread of movements such as #MeToo and Time's Up, as well as the various women's marches that have flared up over the last year, the opening night of the 2018 Makers Conference, a three-day female storytelling platform, was always set to be a night to remember. And so it turned out to be with a panel discussion that featured Hollywood heavy hitters such as Ava DuVernay and Natalie Portman as well as the likes of feminist icon Gloria Steinem, model Karlie Kloss and designer Zac Posen sitting intently in the audience. 

The organizers had promised an event that was "inspired by all the brave women who came forward to shed light on sexual harassment," and the panel wasted no time in celebrating and emphasizing the strength of women who have been sexually assaulted and harassed. 

DuVernay, the Time's Up panel host for the evening, entered the stage to a thunderous, standing ovation. The crowd was then treated to a brief career highlights package of the first black female director to helm a $100 million live-action movie, Disney's upcoming A Wrinkle in Time

The panel comprised some of the powerful women in Hollywood and included CAA agent Maha Dakhil, actresses Rashida Jones and Natalie Portman, director Melina Matsoukas, former assistant to President Obama and chief of staff to Michelle Obama Tina Tchen, lawyer Nina Shaw and actress Katie McGrath. DuVernay described the panel as "Ava's Avengers." "The group is pretty large, it's robust, and it reaches women in all parts of the entertainment industry," DuVernay said. And it must be added, Time's Up has been successful, reportedly raising over $200 million.

Each woman on the panel was given time to speak to offer her own insight on Time's Up. Shaw sought to succinctly summarize the goals of the movement: "It’s simple. it's equity and safety in the workplace. We like to say at Time's Up we can do anything, but we can't do everything.”

Shaw added: “We are focused on not just our industry."

Jones remarked that "one of the things we were forced to look at was what we want in our own industry...there is no change unless you bring every single person that's been marginalized."

Tchen spoke about how crucial the fund is in helping victims secure legal representation as well as providing resources for law firms to take cases pro bono. "Everyone here in the entertainment industry knew that they wanted to reach beyond the entertainment industry. We have real-life examples of that. One of the real tangible ways to get help right now is to get lawyers. We have lawyers who can't afford to do pro bono work. We've received donations from $5 to millions of dollars. It's been an amazing outpouring of support. We have over 1,000 requests for help in one month," Tchen said, adding that law firms that can afford to do pro bono work have volunteered their time to Time's Up.

Portman spoke about her personal experiences on movie sets, as well as shares the nugget that Jones was her first-ever actress friend. The Oscar-winner painted a picture of dreary movie sets with all-male employees, where the women were kept separated. Her description sounded despondent, but Portman's face lit up recounting the friendships and conversations she's had with fellow actors since the inception of Time's Up.

For more information as well as to tune in live to the conference please visit makers.com.