Oscar Actors: Jane Fonda–Rich, Active, Evolving Life

Jane Fonda, Oscar-winning Actress, international movie star, and political activist, was the recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Life Achievement Award at the 2021 Golden Globes. In a remote ceremony, Fonda appeared onstage to accept her award.
In her speech, which was one of the evening’s most touching moments, Fonda turned the attention onto the nominees this year.  She highlighted both the diversity of the films and television series that made her empathize with people of all backgrounds.
“Just this year, Nomadland helped me feel love for the wanderers among us,” Fonda said, “and Minari opened my eyes to the experience of immigrants dealing with the realities of life in a new land, and Judas and the Black MessiahSmall AxeUnited States vs. Billie HolidayMa Rainey and One Night in Miami and others have deepened my empathy for what being Black has meant. Ramy helped me feel what it means to be Muslim American.”
She also singled out I May Destroy You, Michaela Coel’s critically-acclaimed BBC series that was snubbed at this year’s Globes. Fonda remarked that the series “taught me to consider sexual violence in a whole new way.”
She then said: “There’s a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves in this industry,” Fonda said. “The story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out. It’s about who’s offered a seat at the table and who was kept out of the rooms where decisions are made. So that’s all of us, including all the groups who decide who gets hired and what gets made and who wins awards. Let’s all of us make an effort to expand that tent, so that everyone rises and everyone’s story has a chance to be seen and heard.”
She concluded: “Doing this simply means acknowledging what’s true, being in step with the emerging diversity that’s happening because of all those who marched and fought in the past and those who picked up the baton today. After all, art has always been not just in step with history but has led the way. So let’s be leaders. OK? Thank you.”
Reaction to Award
When my publicist told me that I was receiving this award I burst into tears. I was so surprised and so deeply moved.  What I’d like to convey right now is the importance of art. In times of tumult and chaos and division, the arts are so important. A lot of the movies this year help us to understand the various crises that America has faced.
 
Three Crises
There are three major crises now. First, there is the COVID 19 pandemic, there is the overarching existential climate crisis and then there’s the racial justice, white supremacy crisis. Many movies this year help us to understand the context of those crises.
Many problems face the world right now, but there is one, the climate crisis, that if we don’t solve, everything else will be moot. And solving it means, according to the science, that globally we cut fossil fuel emissions in half by 2030, that is really hard. But the scientists agree that we can do it, but we need huge numbers of people pushing for that and making that demand. Interestingly I think that the other crises, they all relate to each other. If there wasn’t racism we wouldn’t have had the climate crisis. If it wasn’t for the climate crisis we wouldn’t have the pandemic etc. Even if we start doing everything right, there’re going to be more pandemics as the Antarctic ice sheet melts and these pathogens are released that we have no immunity to. And as the weather warms and mosquitoes and insects and animals begin to migrate carrying–they’re called vectors–diseases with them. And we’re already seeing this happen.
 
Climate President 
I feel that it’s actually a time of hope because Joe Biden did win the election. We worked hard for that, he was elected overwhelmingly and people of color, young people, are responsible for his election.  This is the first climate president that we have ever had. He’s clearly a man who if you push him to do something, he will listen, and if he thinks it’s right, he will act on it. So we need to keep the pressure on him, because there’s a lot of pressure coming from the other side, from the fossil fuel industry and the white supremacists.
I’m going to continue fighting for issues related to the climate crisis. I’m famous so I have a platform and I can reach a lot of people. Most of the people I’m reaching are women and they’re older, older women get braver, we become more like fighters. A lot of them, like me, we’re not with men anymore who don’t want us to be strong, so we have the wisdom, we have the numbers, we’re the fastest growing demographic and we have the courage.  I try to encourage women to join the climate movement. We do my Fire Drill Fridays virtually, in 2020 we had over 9 million viewers across platforms, most of them women.
 
Significant Movies
Three movies in my career were very important to me. The first is Klute, for which I won my first Oscar.  It was such a good movie and it really took my acting and my career to a new level. The second is Coming Home (for which she won her second competitive Oscar), it was a movie that had been in my heart and in my mind and I helped produce it and develop it, so it meant a lot to me because it’s something that I really wanted to say. And the third is On Golden Pond,  because I wanted to work with my father (Henry Fonda) before it was too late. He died four months after it was released and it was a very beautiful experience.
 
My Father: Henry Fonda
I miss him a lot, I think about him every day, I feel him very present in my life.  When I was writing my memoirs, “My Life So Far” and I happened to be writing about my father when Martin Luther King’s daughter Yolanda called me about something.  And I said, ‘wait a minute Yolanda, let me ask you something, did your father, Martin Luther King, did he sit you on his lap and teach you about values and life?’  And she said, No, he didn’t.  And I said yeah, my father never did either, he never really taught me anything.  But Yolanda has her father’s sermons, and I have my father’s films and through his films, he taught me values like fairness, justice, equality and to never be a racist.  My father wasn’t a talker, he was remote, he came from a certain generation of men who never wanted to show emotion. He didn’t like other people to be emotional in front of him, he also came from the Midwest, which compounded that tendency in his personality. But I loved him and I admired him very much.
 
Favorite Actors
Robert Redford and I made four movies together, and I have very fond memories of him. I have fond memories of my father; I made one movie with him. I have to admit that most of the time when I have fond memories and I maintain a relationship with somebody, it’s with the women, much more than the men.
 
Cancel Culture?
I think it can be overdone, it can be over-used, but it’s about time that people thought twice before they use the N word, it’s about time that people were made to think twice before they say derogatory things to women, it’s about time that people have to think about how their words and actions affect other people. And when they do things that are mean and cruel and racist and misogynist they will need to pay the price for that. And so I think that’s very good.
During the hearings that are happening right now in Washington over the insurrection on January 6 and over the confirmation of President Biden’s cabinet picks, there are two women who’ve been nominated, including Deb Haaland for Interior Secretary. She’s the first indigenous woman to hold that position. But the Republicans say, ‘no we will not vote for them because they said terrible things about Republicans.’ There’s such hypocrisy that is politically based. It’s all right to say terrible things and behave in a terrible way if you’re a Republican, but if you’re a Democrat we’re not going to support it. That kind of cancel culture is wrong. We have to learn to be decent, to feel empathy, to not do or say things that are going to hurt other people.
 
First Golden Globe Show
The first Golden Globe show I went to was in 1962.  Marilyn Monroe was there, and I won for the Most Promising Young Actor. They called it Actress then. I get such a kick out of remembering when the Hollywood Foreign Press was just a small group. But I must say, they need to get more women! I’m only the seventeenth time that a woman has won this award.
 
Troy Garity
One of the most memorable was when my son, the actor Troy Garity, was nominated for his role in Soldier’s Girl. I was at that time out of the business. I’d retired and I had no intention of coming back. And so being his plus one, ‘Momma,’ accompanying him to the Golden Globes was a really stand-out moment for me. He lost to Al Pacino. Not too bad to lose Al Pacino. But that was a great experience for me.
 
Adopted Daughter
My second husband, Tom Hayden, and I ran a children’s camp. And we had children from the Farm Workers Union, from the Black Panthers, from different unions. All of our activist friends who had children of the right age sent them to our camp. And Lulu, her real name is Mary Luana Williams, was one of them.  I won’t go all into the whole story, but she touched my heart. She had a very difficult childhood but I knew there was something in her that was very special. I asked her mom if it was alright that Lulu came down and lived with us. Her mom is challenged in many different ways. Lulu is not legally adopted, but since she was about 13, she’s been part of my family.
 
Television
The first ten years there was no TV, and then when there was, I didn’t watch it very much because I was always outside climbing trees, and being the Lone Ranger.  I was a tomboy. And so, it wasn’t in my DNA to watch television, I grew up without it. I started really watching television I think when I watched the Oscars or Emmys or Globes. And I didn’t know anyone who’d been nominated on the television side. “Who are all these people?” And then I realized, because I was getting older, that my career would probably be a lot in television, so I started watching television.
For the last year, this is what I do: I get up in bed pretty early, I watch MSNBC for the news, and then I watch, depending on what I want to see. I have seen just about every single movie that was made last year. And I’ve seen all of the new TV series. I’ve seen everything, and I’m not sure that I’ll ever go back to not having this exposure.
 
Being Single
I don’t live with anybody anymore. I’m a single woman, so I can do this and not have to worry about it, and not have to fight because my man wants to watch basketball. So, I watch all the movies, all the documentaries, and all the really good TV series, and I’m all the better for it. This year I’m know everybody that’s nominated.
Ever since I have become an activist I try to have movies that either help people understand more of what’s happening in the world but also help people feel more empathy for people that aren’t like them.  But also sometimes just funny things because we all need to laugh more I think.  I just try to avoid things that demean or put down or insult or render people less complicated than they really are.
In 1969, I made They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? a great movie and it had a profound effect on me.  It was the first time I had ever made a movie that spoke to what was happening in the big real world.  And it made me think differently.
 
Youngish Look
I sleep nine hours a night, I exercise, and I eat well, all of which give me energy.  It’s important to keep yourself in shape as you get older and you start to need these surgeries (she had several hip surgeries) because you bounce back quicker if you’re strong and healthy and flexible.
 
Acts of Civil Disobedience 
The climate crisis is the future of civilization. Everything depends on our being able to do what the science tells us we have to do: cut carbon emissions in half by 2050 and then phase it out totally by mid-century. I’m 83 years old, what that means is that for the rest of my life, climate will be at the center of my attention. And we’ve been continuing Fire Drill Fridays online. And the minute that we can be together again, I’ll be out there fighting the fight, and encouraging people to engage in civil disobedience.
 
Women Are Crucial
In North America we have to fight for the ERA, the Equal Rights Amendment, so that finally women’s rights are human rights and part of our Constitution. Women are critical to solving the problem of the climate crisis, we can see in all countries that have women leaders or at least half of the Parliament are women, they tend to pass climate resolutions, have better laws addressing the climate crisis and so forth, there’s all kinds of reasons for that that we don’t have time for.  So I think the empowerment of women, allowing women to rise and take leadership positions is critical for the survival of the planet.  And I will fight for that, not just in North America but globally.
 
Politics as a Career?
I’m not suited for it.  I’m really not.  I watch brilliant Senators and how they work and how they question during the hearings that are going on right now, Amy Klobuchar comes to mind.  And I just don’t know how to do that.  I’m not good as a leader, I’m not a leader.  I’m a follower who has a good ability to lift up whatever the smart people say and then make it popular.  But I am not the one that comes up with the brilliant ideas.  It’s important to understand when you get older what are your strengths and weaknesses.  So for me, it’s hanging out with really smart people and trying to lift their ideas.