Ashley Judd has been fighting back against gender bias and sexual harassment for a long time, she revealed during Univision Communications’ Behind the Camera: Where Diversity Begins panel at the Sundance Film Festival Sunday.
The actress, who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct last October, revealed that her very first Hollywood audition was a rude awakening to the power dynamics within the industry.
“Well, first of all, my first audition yielded a screen test and I was asked to take my shirt off,” she said. “It was between another woman and me, and I said that isn’t about our acting, that’s about evaluating a pair of breasts. And the answer was not ‘no’ but ‘hell no.'”
Judd’s pushback against sexual harassment in that instance is reminiscent of her interactions with Weinstein, which she detailed in the New York Times article that broke the news of decades of harassment claims against the producer.
In her alleged encounter with the since-disgraced media mogul, Judd recalled Weinstein asking her to watch him shower after she met up with him for what she assumed would be a breakfast meeting.
“He ignored my volley of no’s,” she told Diane Sawyer in an interview with Good Morning America in October. “Maybe he heard them as yes’s, maybe he heard them as maybe’s, maybe they turned him on.”
Judd was able to escape the hotel room, she said, because she bargained with Weinstein. “Finally, I just said, ‘When I win an Oscar in one of your movies, OK?'” she recalled. “He said, ‘Yeah, when you get nominated.’ I said, ‘No, when I win an Oscar.’ And then I just fled.”
At the panel Sunday, she acknowledged that she knew she was going to have to risk it all speaking out against Weinstein.
“I have to know the hill on which I’m willing to die,” she said. “And the hill on which I’m willing to die is equality, and if that means going to jail, being maligned, being defamed, having tremendous economic loss because I stood up to Harvey Weinstein – and it’s incalculable the amount of money I could have made that I didn’t – that’s the hill on which I’m willing to die.”