Last night Hollywood gathered for the 75th Golden Globes, and most celebrities made the choice to wear black to protest sexual harassment and raise awareness for Time’s Up, a new initiative fighting sexual misconduct in Hollywood and in workplaces beyond the entertainment business (donate here). Initially I was skeptical of this sort of protest – I didn’t really expect celebrities to sacrifice a statement-making fashion moment of their own at an awards show to say something about an issue they may or may not feel passionately about. But I was wrong. The mood on the red carpet was not somber as a sea of black dresses might convey. Many actresses brought activists as their dates and used their red carpet interview as an opportunity to introduce their guest and their organization. It was also up to the red carpet hosts to follow this lead. They had to all agree to put fashion aside for the night and talk about something more significant than who made their dress. If you weren’t in black last night it definitely sent a message that you cared more about yourself than the group.
During the ceremony direct references to the reason for the color solidarity were few and far between, but a few women took it upon themselves to say more. While presenting the award for best director, Natalie Portman made a point to introduce the all male nominees. Inserting the word ‘male’ on her own. Was she out of line? Not really, what she said wasn’t untrue. Did she make the five men whose names were listed immediately following uncomfortable? Maybe, but if we’re not willing to get a little uncomfortable during this conversation nothing will change. I think it was a brave choice and more impactful coming from her. Oprah received the lifetime achievement award and used her time at the mic as a rallying call.
“Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have,” said Winfrey. “I am especially proud of all of the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories we tell and this year, we became the story. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up.”
She championed the press, empathized with victims of abuse, shared stories that everyone should care about, and challenged each person to do their part so no one has to say #MeToo again. It was the words of a true leader.
Last night was more than black dresses. It was powerful women finally showing Hollywood that time is in fact up. And inspiring women around the world watching to say the same in their workplace. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, “A new day is on the horizon.” I’m excited for this future.