Mila Kunis was once told “You'll never work in this town again.” It came out of the mouth of a male producer, who was furious she refused pose semi-nude for a men's magazine to promote a film they had done together. Now, the 33-year-old is fed up with the treatment of women in the workplace, writing a powerful essay for A Plus about the gender bias she has experienced.
As one of Hollywood's most successful actresses and moms, explains that being “livid” led to her writing the essay.
“I was livid, I felt objectified, and for the first time in my career I said “no,’” Mila wrote. wrote. “And guess what? The world didn't end. The film made a lot of money, and I did work in this town again, and again, and again. What this producer may never realize is that he spoke aloud the exact fear every woman feels when confronted with gender bias in the workplace.”
Another producer limited her to the wife of Ashton Kutcher in an email to network executives and ignored her many talents—one of which is producing. Mila started her own production company with three other women.
“He reduced my value to nothing more than my relationship to a successful man and my ability to bear children,” she wrote. “[The email] ignored my (and my team's) significant creative and logistical contributions. We withdrew our involvement in the project.”
“I’m done compromising; even more so, I'm done with being compromised. So from this point forward, when I am confronted with one of these comments, subtle or overt, I will address them head on; I will stop in the moment and do my best to educate. I cannot guarantee that my objections will be taken to heart, but at least now I am part of creating an environment where there is the opportunity for growth. And if my comments fall on deaf ears, I will choose to walk away...If this is happening to me, it is happening more aggressively to women everywhere.”
She goes on:
“It's what we are conditioned to believe — that if we speak up, our livelihoods will be threatened; that standing our ground will lead to our demise…Throughout my career, there have been moments when I have been insulted, sidelined, paid less, creatively ignored, and otherwise diminished based on my gender. And always, I tried to give people the benefit of the doubt; maybe they knew more, maybe they had more experience, maybe there was something I was missing. I taught myself that to succeed as a woman in this industry I had to play by the rules of the boy's club. But the older I got and the longer I worked in this industry, the more I realized that it's bulls**t! And, worse, that I was complicit in allowing it to happen.
“So, I started my own club. I formed a production company with three amazing women. We have been hustling to develop quality television shows with unique voices and perspectives. Since our inception, we have been lucky enough to partner with incredible producers, male and female, who have treated us as true equals and partners. Recently, we signed on to partner with an influential male producer on a project that would shine a light on an important social issue — ironically — inclusivity and our shared human experience.
In the process of pitching this show to a major network, the typical follow-up emails were sent to executives at this network. In this email chain, this producer chose to email the following: ’And Mila is a mega star. One of biggest actors in Hollywood and soon to be Ashton's wife and baby momma!!!’
“This is the entirety of his email...We withdrew our involvement in the project.”
And Mila has a new rule if you don’t respect her for being a woman with a full life and career and a brain full of smarts.
“I will work in this town again, but I will not work with you,” she says.
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