Time's Up will play a key role at the Oscars

Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in a scene from Darkest Hour. Picture: Jack English
Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in a scene from Darkest Hour. Picture: Jack English

The organisers of Time’s Up say the movement to eradicate discrimination in the workplace will have a presence at Sunday’s Oscar show, but there are no plans for a red-carpet dress code.

Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, actresses Laura Dern and Tessa Thompson, producer Katie McGrath and attorney Nina Shaw talked about the movement’s progress and next steps yesterday.

They stressed that while Time’s Up made a splashy appearance at the Golden Globes earlier this year, with most women wearing black and several actresses walking the red carpet with activists, the movement is bigger and broader than awards shows.

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    “We’re trying to build something that’s sustainable, lasting and serious,” Ms DuVernay said. Time’s Up was “launched on the red carpet, but was never intended to live there”, Ms Rhimes said.

    Besides the black dresses at the Globes, Time’s Up supporters wore white roses at the Grammy Awards. No such uniformity is planned for the Oscars.

    Formed after the Harvey Weinstein scandal revealed widespread sexual harassment in Hollywood, Time’s Up has grown into an international, multifaceted and multi-
pronged approach to fighting workplace discrimination, organisers said. A key element is the legal defence fund, which has amassed $21 million (£15m) and scores of lawyers. In partnership with the US National Women’s Law Centre, the fund connects victims of harassment or discrimination with lawyers, who are either volunteering their services or having their fees underwritten by donations.

    Since Time’s Up was founded about two months ago, it has received some 1,700 requests for legal assistance, said Tina Tchen, a lawyer and former director of the White House Council on Women and Girls. More than 1,200 of those cases have already been referred to lawyers, she said.

    The movement may have started in Hollywood, but it’s become global, Ms Rhimes said, with participation in countries including Kenya, South Korea, Pakistan and Kuwait. From the tech sector to farm workers, women are coming together to demand fair treatment, she said.

    Yesterday, US magazine Time’s Up announced its new StoryCorps initiative, a storytelling collective that invites ordinary people to share tales from their lives, which are eventually uploaded into a Library of Congress collection aimed at fostering greater human understanding. The Time’s Up partnership invites women and men to share stories about their lives at work.

    It’s not just about sexual harassment, organisers said, but about illuminating what it takes to create fair and equitable workplaces.where people of all races, genders and ethnicities are recognised and valued. It’s about seizing on the momentum generated by the outrage over Mr Weinstein and those like him and channeling it toward change.

    “There’s actual work being done,” Ms DuVernay said. “It’s not just a press opportunity... It’s not just an awards-show protest movement.”