The Hollywood organization Time's Up, born post-Harvey Weinstein to fight for gender parity in the workplace, is officially 60 days old. With the Academy Awards approaching Sunday (ABC, 8 p.m. ET/5 PT), Time's Up members including Ava DuVernay, Tessa Thompson and Laura Dern invited select media, including USA TODAY, to a meeting in West Hollywood to discuss what the group has accomplished and how they'll move forward — and yes, Ryan Seacrest has become an issue on the Oscars red carpet.
Q: Will Time's Up be making a splash at Sunday's Oscars?
A: Don't expect anything like the Golden Globes. Shonda Rhimes says the group will be much lower profile this time, after making a statement at the Globes with an all-black dress code, signaling the launch of their organization. "Time's Up entertainment is how this started," says Rhimes. "But we're becoming Time's Up global. This is not about a red carpet."
Adds DuVernay: "We are not an awards show protest group. So we stand down this time." Still, Time's Up worked with producers to carve out "a moment" in Sunday's show, according to Sunshine Sachs publicist Keleigh Thomas Morgan.
Q: What about the now-thorny Ryan Seacrest issue? Given the sexual misconduct allegations against the E! News host, will Time's Up members avoid his show?
A: The assembled stars hesitated to wade into the Seacrest brouhaha, but ultimately, "there's not an official Time's Up action about this one thing," DuVernay says. "We support people who are bearing witness to what has happened to them, but the bottom line is, if you're on the carpet, you make your own individual decision about it. We're trying to build something that's sustainable, long-lasting and serious."
Q: How does membership in Time's Up work? Some actresses in Hollywood have complained they haven't been invited.
A: Time's Up members have met at least once a month, often with 200 to 400 people in attendance, says Katie McGrath, who runs the production company Bad Robot with her husband, J.J. Abrams. There's also a newly formed men's faction, and also a "woke" subgroup addressing intersectionality and inclusion, born of discussion in a meeting about "the issues that women of color face (that) are different from other women in our industry," says Thompson.
As far as the leadership structure, "you can come in and out," explains DuVernay. "If I'm directing, I can't be here. ... It's a flexible structure in that way." And for actresses feeling left out, "there's no invitation process in Time's Up," Rhimes says.
Q: Just how big is the Time's Up legal defense fund?
A: Time's Up has raised $21 million for victims of sexual harassment, organizers say, with donations from 20,000 people, ranging from $5 to $2 million. Tina Tchen, former chief of staff for Michelle Obama, who leads the fund, says the group has received more than 1,700 requests for help. So far, Time's Up has matched 1,250 people with attorneys to review their cases.
"Litigation is expensive," says Tchen. "We're not going to be able to have money for every case, but we are in a process that will help as many cases as we can."
Q: How has Time's Up expanded outside of Hollywood?
A: More than 60 industries are now represented by victims who have come to Time's Up with their cases, including finance, tech and hotel workers. "We are global at this point," said Rhimes, with inquiries coming in from countries like Kenya, Pakistan and Kuwait.
Given the scope of industries coming to Time's Up, "we have a lot more money to raise," says McGrath. "Twenty-one million isn't going to touch it."