Young Stars Praise Jane Fonda for Climate Change Protests

Jane Fonda DC - Getty - H 2019
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"Jane Fonda is such a badass. I love her so much. I want to be Jane Fonda when I grow up, please," 'Shadowhunters' actress Katherine McNamara said Sunday at the People’s Choice Awards.

Jane Fonda sees her movement to protest for action to climate change as being all about helping protect the planet for young people. "We can't let them shoulder this burden by themselves, so it's 'Grannies Unite,'" she said last week.

Now young stars are speaking out about their gratitude for the Grace and Frankie actress and activist, who has been arrested four times recently while protesting during her Fire Drill Fridays in Washington, D.C.

At the People’s Choice Awards on Sunday, actors from Arrow, The Flash, When They See Us and Shadowhunters talked with The Hollywood Reporter about being inspired by Fonda to speak up for political causes as 2020 and the presidential race approach. 

“Jane Fonda is such a badass. I love her so much. I want to be Jane Fonda when I grow up, please,” said Katherine McNamara of Shadowhunters.

Candice Patton (The Flash) follows Fonda on Instagram and said she looks up to the actress: “She's so fearless and brave. At her age, she's still fighting, so I have no excuse. We all have no excuse when we look at someone like Jane Fonda who is actively still out there fighting for what's right. It really inspires me.”

Ben Lewis (Arrow) has a T-shirt featuring Fonda's original mug shot from the 1970s and hopes she starts making shirts with new mug shots. “I'm obsessed with Jane Fonda," admitted the actor.

“She's literally in the trenches, getting arrested every weekend. She's an icon in her own right, but in terms of just doing climate change, she's amazing,” added Asante Blackk of Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us.

Ross Mathews (RuPaul’s Drag Race) appreciates that Fonda does the work by getting arrested. “She's a celebrity who has never been afraid to lend her voice or opinion, not worried about alienating the 50 percent of the country who might disagree with her. It's worked really well for her, so maybe more of us should do it,” he told THR.

The actors say they’re gearing up for 2020 and are prepared to use their platforms to encourage fans to vote.

McNamara believes that, in the age of social media, entertainers have now become political activists. “We have a bit of a voice in these things. While I don't feel it's my place to tell people how to vote, I love educating people on how they can vote physically,” she said. “It's our responsibility as Americans living in this country to take advantage of that and to create the world that we want to live in because it's our time and it's our opportunity to start taking responsibility.”

McNamara's co-star on Shadowhunters, Luke Baines, is walking the walk and will be lobbying Congress in two weeks with Oxfam America about Central American migration. The actor traveled to El Salvador and Honduras and spoke to people “affected by the migration crisis that's happening,” he said. “Obviously there are people turning up on the Southern Border and we wanted to find out why. It's got a lot to do with gender-based violence, drug trafficking and environmental factors. … To fix that problem, it's not going to be as simple as putting up a wall and turning a blind eye. We have to actually address the root cause.”

Baines stresses that it’s crucial for fans to “use their voice” in the upcoming election. Though he is not a U.S. citizen, he wants to “do everything that I can,” he said, adding, “part of my responsibility is educating the fans on that and mobilizing them.”

Patton also plans on using her social media platforms to educate followers about voter suppression, registration and the voting process.

For Blackk, it will be his first time voting as a new 18-year-old. “Anybody who is of age is excited for that. We are ready to make some changes,” he told THR. “We're at a state in our country where if you have a platform, it would be lost on us to not use your platform to make the right changes in this country.” The actor cited climate change, gun control and women’s rights as key issues for him.

Riverdale star and New Zealand native KJ Apa prefers to stay out of American politics, telling THR, "I don't really need to be involved. ... I prefer to just stay a couple steps back from all that stuff."

Others in the industry are still deciding who to back in the upcoming presidential election, given the still-wide pool of candidates for the official Democratic nomination.

Lewis can’t vote, but he said he loves Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris. “I'm especially excited about Elizabeth Warren, and I would be so thrilled if she got the nomination,” he related.

Jacqueline Toboni (The L Word: Generation Q) believes that no matter who gets the nomination, “having Pete Buttigieg up there is pretty amazing to see. He's brilliant, he's gay is mainly what I'm talking about and he is just so positive,” she said. “I think Warren's taking a different road with just coming out with policy, policy, policy. So it'll be interesting if that pays off.”

Mathews, who proclaims to watch MSNBC's Rachel Maddow every night, is still deciding which candidate to support, “but when I make my choice, I'll do it hardcore. If they need me, I will be out there knocking on doors.” He is currently weighing who can win versus what can be accomplished, explaining, “I don't want to have huge dreams and not be able to convince people in Michigan that those dreams are possible.”

Added Grey's Anatomy's Jaicy Elliot: “Being in America, you can't help but be confronted by the whole tornado we've gone through recently. I'm hoping that things will change, obviously. If I can get involved, if I have an opportunity, I absolutely will.”