Ashley Judd opened up about her experiences with abuse and gender bias in Hollywood at an emotional panel at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday.
Joined by a group of diverse filmmakers and Hollywood power players, Judd and the panel discussed inclusion in Hollywood, addressing practical solutions to spur change in the industry and beyond.
Judd, who has been outspoken about the Harvey Weinstein scandal, opened up about her own history with both discrimination in film and sexual abuse.
“Well first of all, my first audition yielded a screen test and I was asked to take my shirt off. It was between another woman and me, and I said that isn’t about our acting, that’s about evaluating a pair of breasts. And the answer was not ‘no’ but ‘hell no,’” she recalled at the panel, titled Univision Communications Behind the Camera: Where Diversity Begins.
Discussing her new Sundance film Monster, which addresses themes of sexual assault, Judd said the storytelling resonated with her deeply. Speaking about her own willingness to discuss her history of sexual abuse, Judd said, “I understand it was never my shame and it was the perpetrators shamelessness which he put on me — and I’ve given that shame back to the perpetrator where it belongs.”
The actress previously discussed her depression and traumatic childhood in her 2011 memoir All That Is Bitter and Sweet.
She added, “And I talk about this from the perspective of from hurting to healing to now helping, but I have the exact same experience where this one summer I was incested and I thought that I had a relationship with an adult man and that it was fancy because he was wealthy. It was just the sophisticated affair and it was outright incest because he was married to a family member.”
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Judd noted that while Monster is a “must watch” movie, it was also very difficult for her to watch. “I mean this in a very complimentary way because of the authenticity of the film, I nearly threw up at one point and then a beat later the character throws up.
“I’m just very glad it that it was made and I’m glad that I had done my work because I was using my tools as I watched the film, and I know the filmmakers are very responsible and are going to have trigger warnings and have all types of support systems in place.”
To donate to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which will provide subsidized legal support to women and men in all industries who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace, visit its GoFundMe page. Learn more about Time’s Up, an organization of women in entertainment combating sexual harassment and inequality, on its website.
She also spoke about the cost she has incurred from her recent activism against sexual harassment. “I have to know the hill on which I’m willing to die. And the hill on which I’m willing to die is 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 that I didn’t — that’s the hill on which I’m willing to die.”
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Judd was one of the first women to come forward accusing Weinstein of sexual harassment. Since her story broke, over 50 others have shared their own accounts of alleged abuse at the hands of the defaced producer.
Weinstein has been accused of sexual misconduct by over 50 women including Judd, Cara Delevingne, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie since The New York Times and The New Yorker documented decades of alleged sexual misconduct and sexual assault involving a number of women in detailed articles in October.
A spokesperson for Weinstein previously told PEOPLE in a statement, “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”
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