David Schwimmer Reveals Story Behind Anti-Sexual Harassment PSAs

The 'Friends' actor partnered with filmmaker Sigal Avin to create a series of short films about the workplace issue.

David Schwimmer is ready to join the #MeToo movement with his own hashtag: #ThatsHarassment.

The Friends star recently released a series of short public service announcements with filmmaker Sigal Avin, each illustrating a form of sexual harassment in the workplace. During an appearance with Avin on Monday's Megyn Kelly Today, the actor explained why he decided to speak out in defense of women.

“I certainly understand why, right now in the current climate, men are reluctant to come forward and speak — which is a shame, because nothing’s going to be accomplished without dialogue. So, part of our goal is to really try to bring men into the conversation,” Schwimmer said of his and Avin’s PSAs, which will also be shown on the screens in the back of New York taxis.

Though some male stars have garnered unwanted attention for their controversial opinions on the #MeToo movement, such as Matt Damon’s “spectrum of behavior” controversy, Schwimmer defended those who may have misspoken, saying, “It’s really unfair to completely condemn someone for trying to articulate how they feel.”

Schwimmer also wrote an op-ed for NBC News, published Tuesday, further explaining why creating the #ThatsHarassment campaign holds personal importance to him, saying that he witnessed the sexual harassment his mother endured while growing up.

“She was subjected to sexual harassment and a lot of discrimination, chauvinism and sexism — by judges, other lawyers, even clients. I grew up with those stories, and so did my sister,” the actor wrote. Schwimmer then explained that over the years he has heard his sister and other women admit they have experienced forms of sexual harassment, something he grew frustrated about and thus determined to make a difference.  

Schwimmer has been an advocate for child and adult victims of sexual violence and has served on the board of directors of the Rape Foundation for the last 15 years. Though the recent rise of the #MeToo movement and the Time’s Up initiative have put the issue of harassment in the national spotlight, Schwimmer says that further work can be done.

“I really noticed that women were being more openly demeaned and discredited, and then, with a presidential candidate boasting of committing sexual assault on audio tape, I thought, 'This is real. This is unacceptable.' I'm the father of a 6-and-a-half-year-old daughter; if I'm going to do something about this for the future generations, now is the time.”

Schwimmer’s short films with Avin were actually released online last April, months before the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. Realizing they posted the videos too soon, Schwimmer and Avin partnered with the Ad Council to include “call[s] to action” like RAINN’s national help hotline and worked with the National Women’s Law Center to “create a digital toolkit of 10 steps that employers can take to help prevent harassment in the workplace.”

“That, to me, is the most important piece of #ThatsHarassment: We're not just a movement to bring awareness to the issue, we are a campaign and a call to action,” Schwimmer wrote. “We are trying to provide real solutions to both get people empowered to report and heal, and to get companies to reform their workplaces. I want to change things.”

The actor hopes that with his efforts, sexual harassment can become a thing of the past. “I want to make sure that every employer and every company understands what they can do to help prevent sexual harassment at work. If every company would do that, that would be a good start to ending the sexual harassment that women have had to endure for generations. And then, maybe, my daughter’s generation won’t have to endure what my mother’s did, and what mine did.”