Amber Heard has been in the spotlight a lot recently because of her high-profile divorce from Johnny Depp. But before that, she got a lot of attention for a different reason involving her personal life: Heard came out as bisexual publicly in 2010, which she didn't think was a big deal in the moment. But at The Economist's Pride & Prejudice event in New York on Thursday, Heard discussed that in the aftermath of being open about her sexuality she realized that she had earned herself a new label. But rather than shy away from it, she has in her career advocated for LGBTQ rights and has tried to increase visibility of LGBTQ actors in Hollywood, an industry which she says has "a lot of catching up to do."
According to E! News, at the Economist event, Heard recalled the After Ellen interview in 2010 during which she was asked about bringing her then-girlfriend to a GLAAD event. Heard said that she just "answered honestly" when asked who she was with, but she didn't realize what that would mean for her career. "My poor publicist," she said at Thursday's event. But instead of trying to backtrack or damage control, she owned her new identity in the public eye, though in her private life there had been no secret about her sexuality.
"I was always out. I was an activist. I went to protests," she said. But after the public found out about her sexuality, Heard decided to own it, even though the "bisexual" label posed a threat to her career. "I saw myself being in this unique position and having a unique responsibility. So, I bit the bullet."
She's always been vocal about her commitment to fight for equality. In an interview in 2015 with the Times of London, Heard said, "I fight, but I shouldn't have to ... The ironic thing is that's what we're fighting for: to not have your preferences mediate by other's prejudices."
Heard's attitude of absolute ownership of her sexuality is encouraging to anyone who looks to her as a role model. It's clear that she won't let anyone define her sexuality for her.
Even when she was told by directors and producers that being labeled as bisexual could have a detrimental effect on her career, she was defiant and determined to prove them wrong. And she did. Heard has had a steady stream of roles since 2010, including Magic Mike XXL, The Danish Girl, and The Justice League. And now, she's happy to see that there are other proudly out women working in Hollywood. "I stand here now amongst many of my romantic leading lady peers who are out and fluid," she said. Heard's refusal to conform to heteronormative expectations makes her a figure that some members of the LGBTQ community may be able to look at and see themselves in.
But there's still quite a long way to go for Hollywood, which Heard hopes to make a difference in, and she urges her colleagues in Hollywood to follow suit. "If we're meant to reflect the world around us, the whole point of telling stories and reaching audiences is to challenge the status quo," she said. "We're in a unique position to do this. We need to be actively pushing." Heard's push for visibility is crucial. If roles don't reflect, as she says, the diversity of sexuality off-screen, Hollywood will render itself irrelevant soon enough.
Heard also said that she was ready to come out again on social media, perhaps to reach a whole new audience of people or to relate to them better through her advocacy. Whatever the reason, Heard is committed to her activism for the LGBTQ community, and this Economist event is sure to be one of many to come where she used her voice to, as she says, "challenge the status quo" and continue to encourage much more LGBTQ visibility in Hollywood. Her defiance and refusal to compromise her identity for success is empowering.