At this year's Academy Awards, there will surely be references to Time’s Up. That movement was launched on Jan. 1 by a group of women in Hollywood who offered this statement:
“The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It's time to do something about it.”
One of the founders of Time's Up, Maha Dakhil, has some advice for men who may not be sure what their role is in the movement to create greater equality and safety in the work place.
You're not allowed to be bored by the movement. You're not allowed to think that it's going on for too long. This is a movement you have to get involved in. You have to be a part of it. You have to answer to yourself as a human, not just to women. What are you doing to make the world better? And without gender equality, without equality for all races and all faiths and all abilities, we're not in the right world. So this is as much a man's issue as it is a women's issue because we won't have peace until we're all equal.
The Frame host John Horn recently visited Dakhil at her office at CAA — one of the three largest talent agencies in Hollywood — where she's been a motion picture agent for 14 years. Born in Libya but raised in Encino, Dahkil has an interesting take on being an outsider who’s also an insider. Her clients include Ava DuVernay, Steve McQueen, Gina Rodriguez and many others.
Dakhil discussed the challenge to achieving pay equity and how changing the culture is everyone's responsibility.
On changing the culture that enabled sexual harassment in Hollywood:
This has been an extreme awakening. There's nothing we are going to do to change people who were criminals, but there's so much we can do about all of us. Because I believe we were all complicit to a culture that allowed for so much. A lot of things that were wrong didn't register as wrong because we've inherited social acceptance from generations of things we shouldn't have. And we as women — and men — believe that maybe our voices didn't matter, or that sticking your neck out in a public way would affect your job security or the security of others. The really great thing about the cultural shift is that all of that is unacceptable now.
On how some talent agencies and lawyers who wrote non-disclosure agreements may have enabled bad behavior, even if they weren't being complicit in that behavior:
This is going to sound crazy, but I believe most people in Hollywood are actually pretty good and decent people. I know it doesn't sound that way to the world-at-large or the stories that they hear, but being here and working here and knowing the people that I know, I really truly do not believe that anyone that I work with on a daily basis would knowingly put anybody in harm's way. That said, I think the cultural awakening we've had in our industry is to look at ourselves on an individual basis, search ourselves differently and [ask], Is this action making the world better or worse? Is this an association I want or I don't want? We don't have to put up with bullies anymore just because. We don't have to put up with power structures because that's the way it is. We have to — each and every one of us — be completely individually accountable in a way we never have had to before.
On the need for men to get involved in this movement:
What will differentiate the movement now is that men and women together are going to solve this. Time's Up in particular is engineered by women, it's directed by women. But of course it includes men. We need men. We share the planet Earth together and that's never going to change. Men are completely necessary to this. And I think that a lot of men are really scared. They're very supportive, but they're scared to speak out. They're scared to step out. They're not sure what their place in this is. And their place in it is to make the world a better place. Period.