After weeks of silence, several celebrities associated with the anti-harassment group Time’s Up are finally reacting to revelations that top leaders helped former New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo smear an accuser. On Saturday, the entire governing board, including Eva Longoria, Shonda Rhimes, and Jurnee Smollett (actress and sister of Jussie Smollett), announced they were resigning.
In a statement, Longoria, Rhimes, and Smollett insisted that the mission of Time’s Up is still “to support the goal of safe, fair, dignified work for all women.” They called the New York attorney general’s revelations, which found CEO Tina Tchen advised Cuomo on a letter that would have discredited his former staffer Lindsey Boylan’s claims, a “crisis” that offers “an important opportunity for growth and change.”
While legal fund board chairwoman Roberta Kaplan helped Cuomo on the wording of the letter, leaked text messages later published in The Washington Post revealed that Tchen also ordered Time’s Up staff to “stand down” from making any public statements in support of Boylan.
“I am especially aware that my position at the helm of Time’s Up has become a painful and divisive focal point,” Tchen, who worked in the Obama White House, said when she resigned. “Those very women and other activists who should be working together to fight for change are instead battling each other in harmful ways.”
The board did not mention Tchen, Kaplan, or Cuomo in announcing their resignations. Instead, their comments stayed focused on the “systems” they say the group was created to “disrupt”:
It is crucial to us as a board that the organization remain in service to this seismic, global work to demand equity and disrupt systems that foster discrimination, harassment and abuse …
TIME’S UP is ready for new leadership, and we want to move forcefully toward its new iteration. We have strong faith in the talent and dedication of our interim CEO Monifa Bandele as a leader. As has been announced, Monifa will be overseeing a comprehensive assessment of the organization, in collaboration with an outside consultant, and the input of our stakeholders: survivors and those who work for survivor justice and gender equity in the workplace and beyond …
TIME’S UP belongs to all women. Its mission must continue – until we live in a world in which no woman ever needs to say #timesup again.
The statement also announced that Time’s Up will now be assembling an entirely new board so that Bandele will be able “to refocus the organization’s leadership to suit its mission and needs.” However, four current members, including “Kiss the Girls” actress and Harvey Weinstein accuser Ashley Judd, will stay on for a short time to help ensure a “smooth transition.”
Several other Hollywood A-listers who have heavily supported Time’s Up, including Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Natalie Portman, have yet to comment on the scandal.