In 2017, Ashley Judd was among the actors who spoke out against the sexual harassment of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. At a panel at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday, Jan. 21, Judd recalled that she was asked to take off her shirt during her first screen test , according to People. “Well first of all, my first audition yielded a screen test and I was asked to take my shirt off," Judd said during the panel, as reported by People. "It was between another woman and me, and I said that isn’t about our acting, that’s about evaluating a pair of breasts."
Judd continued, detailing her response to this alleged appalling request: "And the answer was not ‘no’ but ‘hell no.'" The Sundance panel was titled "Univision Communications Behind the Camera: Where Diversity Begins," and, according to Deadline, Fusion TV host Kimberly Brooks moderated the discussion, which also included EMG Studios CEO Camila Jimenez Villa, co-director of the Pixar movie Coco Adrian Molina, Gamechanger Films president and producer Mynette Louie and Creative Artist Agency’s Darnell Strom. On the panel, Judd also discussed her current role in the Time's Up initiative. She said, according to Deadline:
“My role at the moment as someone who has done a lot of trauma work, and of course I’m a survivor of sexual assault and rape, and I’ve had the opportunity to do all kinds of really cathartic and powerful and healing trauma work. I’m a bit of an elder in a way of holding the space for some younger folk who haven’t had a chance to process their experiences, because the more we acknowledge abuse, assault and harassment for what it is, the more we become clarified in our thinking and emotional residences of what actually happened to us.”
In addition to discussing sexual assault and harassment, Judd talked about the issue of equal pay on the panel. According to Deadline, she mentioned her efforts for equal pay during the event, recalling a recent meeting with representatives at her agency, William Morris Endeavor. “I would like for this agency that represents me to be 50/50 male female including all ethnicities, races and sexual orientations," she said at the panel according to Deadline. "And the 50/50 needs to be included in all decision-making levels, which means they would have to add two females at the top.”
But there's still a lot of work to do. At the panel, Brooks asked Judd to grade how well Hollywood currently includes diverse talent and women — and Judd did not mince words. “Acknowledging that we are in a moment of great change, I would give us an ‘F,’" the actor said, according to Deadline. "I’d also say that the tide is changing and that we have both the will and the desire and the data to show how easy it is to take that ‘F’ to ‘A+’.”
At the end of the panel, Deadline reported that Judd led the audience at Sundance through chanting some positive affirmations, which included the following phrases: “I can change the world!”, "We can have unity!”, and “We are always a precious love and empowered!”
In an October 2017 interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer, Judd discussed an alleged encounter with Weinstein at a hotel, in which the producer reportedly asked Judd for a massage in his hotel room and Judd said that she had told him no several times.
Judd did mention Weinstein briefly during the Sundance panel and said:
“I have to know the hill on which I’m willing to die. The hill on which I’m willing to die is for equality, and if that means going to jail, being maligned, being defamed, having tremendous economic loss because I stood up to Harvey Weinstein, and it’s incalculable the amount of money I could have made if I didn’t, that’s the hill on which I’m willing to die."
Judd added, "We go from being victims to survivors to being leaders."
The actor is speaking out about so many issues that matter — and how much work is needed to make real change for women in Hollywood and beyond.