This article is part of a series profiling the inspiring women of Together Live, a band of all-female storytellers who will travel across the U.S. this fall, spreading love, laughter, and hope. In 10 cities, big and small, the intimate one-night-only events serve as a reminder that no matter what divides us, women are strongest when we come together. Learn more about Together Live here—and get excited to join the party.
You may remember Sophia Bush as the It girl of the early aughts. When she starred as Brooke on the teen juggernaut One Tree Hill, and as Beth in the ultimate revenge film John Tucker Must Die, the media feverishly covered her every move. But what they weren't writing about was what was happening beneath the surface—the fact that Bush was coming into her own as an activist. Bush first became vocal about humanitarian causes in regard to the environment, but since has spoken out about everything from the harassment she's experienced on sets to voting rights. Last year she participated in the viral hashtag #WhyIDidntReport movement—thanking Christine Blasey Ford and sharing her own experience of assault. Before that, she was also a founding member of Time's Up.
Here Bush let's us in on the people who have told her to not speak out but rather to stay in her lane, and why she refused to listen.
Glamour: You've been a loud and proud advocate for the causes close to your heart, whether it's your work with Time's Up or I Am a Voter. How did you first decide to trust your voice, and fight for the things you care about?
Sophia Bush: In my experience, the truth itself has an energy, like a drum beat. It makes noise inside of me. And there is nothing to do but speak it. It will never quiet down, nor should it. I’ve always been outspoken about justice, but I do remember when that personal tendency went public after Deepwater Horizon and the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster it caused. As a lifelong lover of this planet of ours, I was incensed at the environmental injustice I was witnessing. And I still am! We have so much work to do. But the work won’t get done if we don’t first have the conversation about the issue at hand. That’s step number one. And we can take our action steps from there.
Were there people in your life who made you feel like you couldn't speak out for what you believe in? Who made you feel that as an actor you should just stay in your lane?
Of course. From haters on the internet who attempt to shame me—and really any woman with the gumption to be outspoken—to people I’ve either worked with or encountered in various industries who have tried to discourage me from speaking truth to power, I’ve been on the receiving end of my fair share of warnings against "taking risks." But what would any of this mean if my relative platform and relative privilege wasn’t being leveraged to extend a greater platform to others? I believe that if we don’t pay it forward, we’re failing to be stewards of our community.
How did using your platform to speak truth to power for the first time change you? I imagine you were nervous, but did it also seem that it activated something within you?
The truth is contagious. And the more we speak it, the clearer the path before us becomes. That’s my experience anyhow. Speaking out often comes with backlash, but it simultaneously brings you closer to yourself and your community. As an early signer of the Time’s Up letter—when I shared my experiences as woman in my industry—I found many more women and allies who leaned in alongside me. In politics too. I’ve built an incredible community of other activists across the country and in other parts of the world who are fighting the good fight as well. And on the hard days it’s those people who remind me that this is a marathon and we are all running it together. That keeps me feeling activated and inspired.
What in the activism space have you done that's meant the most to you?
Interviewing Samantha Power for the U.N. was a pretty incredible moment for me, and so was watching Time’s Up launch. Cofounding I Am a Voter and seeing how many people across the country we’ve been able to get registered to vote thus far.
What's getting you fired up now, in this current cultural moment?
I am all in on 2020 and seeing our democracy’s norms restored. That’s why I’m very fired up about I Am a Voter. And personally, my podcast. Work in Progress is a labor of love and an exercise in deep curiosity.
Sophia Bush is an American actor, activist, entrepreneur, and global education access advocate. Follow her on Instagram at @sophiabush. She'll take the stage for Together Live in Los Angeles and Seattle. Buy tickets here.
Originally Appeared on Glamour