Sharon Stone kicked off The Hollywood Reporter’s Raising Our Voices luncheon gala Wednesday with an impassioned speech about her health journey and the challenges she has faced as a result of speaking up for herself.
Stone opened the second annual event that was held at Audrey Irmas Pavilion and GenSpace in Los Angeles and featured industry leaders addressing the state and future of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in Hollywood. During her time onstage, Stone discussed the impact of the stroke and brain hemorrhage she suffered in 2001, for which she said she was given a 1 percent chance of survival, and recalled her struggles to get work after recuperating.
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“I recovered for seven years, and I haven’t had jobs since,” Stone said. “When it first happened, I didn’t want to tell anybody because you know if something goes wrong with you, you’re out. Something went wrong with me — I’ve been out for 20 years. I haven’t had jobs. I was a very big movie star at one point in my life.”
The performer, who was Oscar-nominated for her work in 1995’s Casino, reflected on instances throughout her career in which she had to be her own advocate. “I broke a lot of glass ceilings on the top of my head,” Stone continued. “I want to tell you that it hurt. It hurt to get paid. It hurt to fight the studio heads. It hurt to make boundaries — boundaries about who could come in my trailer and what they could ask for; boundaries about the fact that I didn’t want to sign my contract in my makeup trailer on the day that I started a show. It hurt to say that I had, like any corporation, the opportunity to have my lawyer read my contract and that I didn’t have to start the show signing my unread contract in the makeup trailer.”
Stone recalled that standing up for herself “has caused me a lot of problems in the business” and at times has kept her from getting hired. She then detailed the work that she’s been doing over the years for the World Health Organization and the United Nations to help underrepresented voices be heard. The star also emphasized that those with diverse perspectives need to demand a position in this industry.
“It is important to me that your diversity does not get wiped out by this anti-woke bullshit idea in our country,” she said. “This democratic experiment means a lot. It means a lot. The extreme pushing of a controlled government society — whatever you want to call it, whatever people want to label it — is also an experiment. It doesn’t mean that it is happening. It means that it is an experiment to see if you will eat it. Will you eat a controlled government? Will you eat a controlled studio system? What will you eat — or will you stand up and be counted?”
Other highlights from THR’s Raising Our Voices event included Taika Waititi delivering the keynote speech, in addition to Eva Longoria and Niecy Nash-Betts being honored. There were panel discussions on topics including “The State of Inclusion in Storytelling” and “Inside Hollywood’s Shifting Power Structures.”
The luncheon, sponsored by the Golden Globes, GenSpace and East West Bank, was equipped with ADA-compliant ramps and access points, as was last year’s event. Additionally, there were two ASL interpreters throughout the stage program plus accessibility volunteers on site.
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