Tribeca: Lupita Nyong'o, Other Stars Reflect on Need to Tell Diverse Women's Stories at Time's Up Event

Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival
Mira Sorvino, Lupita Nyong'o, Cynthia Erivo and Amber Tamblyn at the Time's Up Tribeca Film Festival event

At the day-long event, which featured a number of Hollywood figures, Ashley Judd read a letter for sexual-assault survivors; other participants included Julianne Moore, Marisa Tomei, Mira Sorvino and Amber Tamblyn.

Months after gender-equality organization Time's Up established itself amid a nationwide reckoning with sexual misconduct, as claims of inappropriate behavior were leveled against high-profile men in various industries, including Hollywood, the organization hosted its first New York City event at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday.

The day-long series of panels featured a number of Hollywood stars who have participated in the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, as well as individuals from other industries. Throughout the event, those who took the stage talked about their own experiences with gender inequality and sexual misconduct.

Julianne Moore and Jurnee Smollett-Bell took the stage early on Saturday, and Moore said the movement has helped her recognize indiscretions that had occurred in her past, as well as start the conversation about these issues with her teenage daughter.

“When this movement started, I felt sure that I hadn’t personally been a victim of sexual harassment or assault. But I as I read and listened to the countless other women’s stories, I began to look at my experiences through a different lens,” she said. “Our understanding of what is acceptable has been skewed by the fact that egregious behavior has been normalized by society and those who speak out have been the ones who are stigmatized, as opposed to the perpetrators. And then I realized that I had never spoken to my teenage daughter about these experiences that I had and how I handled them. The actions of Time’s Up prompted me to have important conversations with her about what behaviors are and are not acceptable.”

Later in the day, two separate panels addressed the issues of representing diverse female stories and perspectives on screen and of increasing the number of women helming such films, amid continually poor statistics about the number of female directors on top-grossing movies.

Director-producers Haifaa Al-Mansour, Jennifer Fox, Kimberly Reed and Lisa Cortes participated in one panel, and actresses Lupita Nyong’o, Cynthia Erivo, Amber Tamblyn and Mira Sorvino participated in another discussion.

“As an actress who grew up watching everyone but myself, I feel like part of changing the narrative is changing the perspective of the narrative,” said Nyong’o. The Oscar winner said she is focusing on African stories and emphasized the importance of finding a way to relate to different people’s stories. She also spoke about the importance of having other women help her bring these projects to life.

“I know my story best, and I want to be able to tell my story and tell it with people like me who also feel this gaping hole of representation,” she said.

Tamblyn, meanwhile, spoke about the importance of educating people on the issues. “It’s most important that we keep pushing people to understand us and don’t tolerate anything less than that,” she said.

Ashley Judd, who was one of the first stars to accuse Harvey Weinstein of misconduct, read a letter she had written to sexual assault survivors. “It is our birthright to know in our bones that it wasn’t our fault,” she said.

“I think when we change ourselves, we change the world,” Judd said, adding, “Don’t expect to have all of the healing all at once.”

Others participating in the event included two of the women behind the Tribeca Film Festival, Jane Rosenthal and Paula Weinstein; actresses Mariska Hargitay, Sienna Miller, Marisa Tomei and Sasheer Zamata; and #MeToo founder Tarana Burke.

Proceeds from the day went to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund.