Anna Camp Opens Up About Being Sexually Harassed

In an election year that's been punctuated by misogynistic rally signs, calls for a female candidate to smile more or smile differently, and accusations of actual sexual assault, it can sometimes feel like the world is still stuck in the dark ages of severe gender inequality. The Amazon series Good Girls Revolt premieres Oct. 28 and endeavors to not just show how far women have come but to inspire women and their allies to keeping kicking down that door. "There was no term for sexual harassment or sexual discrimination ... it hadn’t been defined yet," Anna Camp tells Bustle about the show's late '60s setting. "These women are the pioneers in putting a word to it. And once there’s a word, you can stand up to it and act out against it."

While Camp isn't living within the same biased strictures as her character, she's had an unfortunate amount of experience with antiquated gender roles and prejudices in Hollywood. "I was told by a manager that I first met with that I needed to lose 10 pounds. I think I’d been sexually harassed in one way or another in almost all of my jobs," Camp says. "And it’s horrible to say that, but it definitely informed my character a lot, especially towards the end of the season when Jane realizes she doesn’t have to get up and be all dolled up to go to work. That her brain and her heart and her passion and her drive are the most important things that should be respected."

Good Girls Revolt is based on a true story of activism as presented in Lynn Povich's non-fiction book by the same name. In 1969, a group of women employed by Newsweek sued the magazine for gender discrimination and jump-started a feminist revolution. Bustle reached out to Newsweek for comment on the original lawsuit and the show portraying it now, but has not yet heard back. The lawsuit resulted in a settlement in which Newsweek agreed to provide equal employment opportunities to women.

In addition to Camp, Bustle spoke to the other stars and creators of Good Girls Revolt about doing justice to the legacy of these women and carrying their fight forward. The series centers around Patti Robinson (Genevieve Angelson), Jane Hollander (Camp), and Cindy Reston (Erin Darke), dedicated and whip-smart News Of The Week (the fictional magazine of the show) employees who nonetheless find themselves battling for respect and credit where respect and credit are due. All three actors were drawn to the project in large part because it's so female-driven, in front and behind the camera. "My relationships with women are really my primary purpose," Angelson says. "Women, and building each other up. So when this show came out, I felt a primal, essential connection to it." Darke agrees, adding, "And it was an amazing experience working on [GGR], going to work every day, and seeing these badass ladies kicking some ass."

Before finding GGR, Darke was frustrated by an industry focus on the superficial. "For a great part of my career, I will say that I have stressed over, spent more time on, and worried about what I was going to wear or how I was going to do my hair for most auditions more than the material or the work itself," she says. "You stop feeling like a person, sometimes," Camp agrees.

Good Girls Revolt presents a full picture of the slow climb towards equality by including full, complex men in the narrative. You won't find any evil male stereotypes in this series, especially among the reporters paired with female researchers. "When I say 'feminism' I mean I’m not a sexist. I don’t discriminate against people for their gender, plain and simple," Angelson says. "So we have these situations drawn out over 10 episodes in our show where these guys who are really good guys — really good guys — some of whom believe in these women but have no precedent for knowing what to expect of them or what to ask of them or how to talk about this stuff."

Two of the men running to catch up are reporter Doug Rhodes (Hunter Parrish) and editor Finn Woodhouse (Chris Diamantopoulous). Diamantopoulous praise showrunner Dana Calvo for "creating characters who are behaving in a manner that was socially condoned in the era and who, by today’s standards, are doing things that would definitely be construed as chauvinistic or misogynistic. But there are still sympathetic elements to these characters, because they're doing the best they can with the information they have available to them." Finn "straddles these generations," the actor says. Part of his arc is the boss admiring the change happening in his newsroom while catering to the "old guard" who sign his paychecks.

"One of the things that’s incredibly important in this formula is to not vilify these guys," Parrish says. His character finds himself in a relationship with a woman who's suddenly asking for more. "He watches Patti stretch her wings and it’s very uncomfortable for him," he says of Doug. "You get to see him throughout the season evolve himself and decide if he wants to be a part of where she’s going or fight it."

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“The rules were changing day by day," says executive producer Lynda Obst who, as a journalist, directly experienced this evolution. "We wanted to tell the story of the change that feminism brought to the workplace, in the relationship between the men and women, in the relationships between boyfriends and girlfriends, and in marriages." The roll-out of those changes is the reason why Good Girls Revolt was developed as a series and not a feature. The impact of what these women did reverberated for years. "I witnessed it," Obst says, "and it was astonishing."

Camp and her Good Girls Revolt co-stars are still feeling that impact too. "Girls want to see stories about women; guys want to see stories about women," Camp says. "There’s such a hunger for it right now." The actor voices a hope that the young, female audience who discovered her as Aubrey in the Pitch Perfect movies will follow her to this new series. She hopes they'll reap the benefits of engaging in another "girl-power" story and see how important it is for women to stand up for each other and themselves — be it in 1970 or in 2016.

Images: Amazon Studios (5)