It has only been 10 months since America Ferrera helped launch Times Up alongside Shonda Rhimes, Reese Witherspoon, Ava DuVernay, Meryl Streep, and other powerful women in Hollywood. In that time period, the organization—which aims to fight workplace sexual harassment, assault, and abuse—has made tremendous headway, raising over $22 million for the National Womens Law Center and awarding $750,000 to 18 nonprofit organizations that support low-wage workers enduring alleged sexual misconduct in the workplace. It is a good start. But speaking at Vanity Fairs New Establishment Summit on Wednesday, the actress and activist revealed that, in her quest for equality, she wants to do “everything I can to influence individuals to be part of the solution.”
Katie Couric, who was moderating the panel, which also included recently announced Times Up C.E.O. Lisa Borders, seized upon the statement to ask Ferrera point-blank whether she might run for office.
“My response to that question has always been, No, no, no!,” Ferrera replied, before alluding to the time span since Donald Trump was elected president. “But to be perfectly honest, I think that if every single one of us hasnt asked ourselves that question in the last two years, then youre not asking yourself the right questions.”
Speaking about Times Up, Ferrera explained, “This whole movement is about the balance of power, and who is represented, and who has a voice, and whose stories get told, and who tells those stories. We cant just keep saying, Lets make the world good enough for the people who come behind us. We need to step up and take those positions of power. We have to be willing to step into those positions ourselves.” And if not that, Ferrera continued, “We have to acknowledge and recognize that when we have extraordinary leaders like Lisa Borders and the thousands of women who are stepping up and running for office, its our responsibilities to have their backs and support them, and to show up.”
“So many people think its this terrible thing to say, Yeah, I can run for office,” added Ferrera. “I think women in particular are afraid to say that because women who have sought power as elected officials have not been treated very well and been called some really ugly names. So we think, if we say we want to run for office, that is going to make us seem like a power-hungry shrew or something. So I will say, for the first time, in front of a public audience, sure, Ive asked myself the question of whether I should be running for office. And I think you should be asking yourself that question, too.”
Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Julie MillerJulie Miller is a Senior Hollywood writer for Vanity Fairs website.