By Kelsey Duchesne
Image: Gage Skidmore
“You will never work in this town again” is a phrase that is *actually* used by real Hollywood executives. Who knew this was a thing real people actually say outside of bad movies?
Some dummy executive thought this was an appropriate thing to say to Mila Kunis, after she declined to pose topless while promoting an upcoming movie. Despite being threatened in her work environment, Kunis did not back down, and I’ve heard that she’s like, still around, doin’ movies and stuff. She wrote an op-ed for A Plus about how she will no longer be silent when coming to face-to-face with sexist migroaggressions in the industry.
“I was livid, I felt objectified, and for the first time in my career I said "no." And guess what? The world didn't end. The film made a lot of money and I did work in this town again, and again, and again,” Kunis wrote. “What this producer may never realize is that he spoke aloud the exact fear every woman feels when confronted with gender bias in the workplace.”
This wasn’t the first time Kunis has been belittled or received aggression from her male colleagues, so she decided to start her own production company, Orchard Farm, with 3 other women. Despite working with supportive partners and developing their own projects, Mila experienced more undermining when a producer described her significance through her spouse and children...not her own credentials.
“And Mila is a mega star. One of biggest actors in Hollywood and soon to be Ashton's wife and baby momma!!!”, Kunis recalls him writing. While we’re sure Kunis is proud of her partner in children, they’re irrelevant to her as an actress and producer. “This is the entirety of his email. Factual inaccuracies aside, he reduced my value to nothing more than my relationship to a successful man and my ability to bear children. It ignored my (and my team's) significant creative and logistical contributions. We withdrew our involvement in the project.”
Kunis has declared that she will continue to voal when these sexist microaggressions occur, while fully aware that she is in a place of privilege, making it easier for her than women who are not financially secure.
“If this is happening to me, it is happening more aggressively to women everywhere,” she wrote. “I am fortunate that I have reached a place that I can stop compromising and stand my ground, without fearing how I will put food on my table”. This is important for Kunis to acknowledge, especially considering that according to the 2015 U.S. Census Bureau, out of the 12 million single parent families in 2015, more than 80% were single mothers.
“I am also fortunate that I have the platform to talk about this experience in the hope of bringing one more voice to the conversation so that women in the workplace feel a little less alone and more able to push back for themselves,” Kunis wrote. And to that original producer? “I will work in this town again, but I will not work with you.” Here, here.