The voices of silence: Ashley Judd, Megan Twohey et Jodi Kantor

The voices of silence: Ashley Judd, Megan Twohey et Jodi Kantor

The investigation film "She Said", directed by Maria Schrador, follows the months of hard work by two New York Times reporters, Jodi Kantor (played by Zoe Kazan) and Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan), to expose one of the most important scandals of their generation.

Thanks to their hard work and masterful efforts in investigating, gathering statements and evidence, finding sources, legal barriers and intimidation, they denounce the sexual abuse of producer Harvey Weinstein. With journalistic rigor and great empathy for women who have been shamed into silence for so long, they free their voices and break decades of silence.

Contacted by the production, Ashley Judd agrees to play her own role in the film. The actress was the first woman to agree to have her identity publicly revealed by journalists. Her name, associated in black and white with her testimony, gave the article the necessary strength to free speech and break the anonymity.

Filmmaker Maria Schrader ("Unorthodox", 2020 ; "I'm Your Man", 2022) confesses that "the consequences of this article and the movement it initiated have been enormous. Of course, there are the obvious changes: the way studios, film festivals have made efforts, especially in terms of diversity and inclusivity, which is very encouraging and creates opportunities. But these changes go far beyond Hollywood. Perhaps the most significant change is how men, as well as women, are beginning to look differently at their personal dealings with sexual harassment or abuse. It's on that much more intimate level that I think the change has really been impactful. We are freer today to share our experiences." (Interview by Emmanuel Itier and Roxanna Bina, AlloCiné)

Ashley Judd is an American actress and feminist activist. She gained fame with the film "Ruby in Paradise", which was a critical success and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1993 Sundance Festival.

For many years, she has traveled the world on humanitarian missions to go and meet the most vulnerable and poorest populations. Her actions being mainly focused on gender equality, health and women's sexual and reproductive rights, she is particularly attached, during her travels, to help the most underprivileged women and girls.

As the official ambassador for YouthAIDS, which provides humanitarian aid and raises awareness about AIDS, she founded in 2005 a testing center in Cape Town, South Africa. She has since become an international advocate for poverty prevention and awareness, and has met with political and religious leaders on behalf of the disempowered to seek political and social change.

In 2010, interviewed by the news channel CNN about her humanitarian actions, she publicly speaks out about the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the connection between the financial interests derived from the exploitation of minerals used to manufacture electronic devices and the use of rape as a weapon of war against Congolese girls and women.

That same year, she published her memoirs entitled "All That Is Bitter and Sweet", a book that was praised by many personalities. In it, she reveals why she wanted to work for the most marginalized people: the trauma of her own childhood, marked by violence, abandonment and addictions, and her recovery after years of therapy, ultimately motivated her to help others.

In 2011, she joined the Board of Directors of the International Center for Research on Women. Judd is also an advisory board member of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an organization that fights sex trafficking and intergenerational prostitution in India. She also supports Women for Women International and Equality Now.

Active on the speaking circuit, she gives several speeches on gender equality, abuse and humanitarian topics.

In 2016, she was named a goodwill ambassador for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, charged with improving sexual, reproductive and maternal health worldwide. In May 2018, she visited UNFPA's projects for women and girls affected by humanitarian crises in Jordan, Turkey, Ukraine and Bangladesh, as well as its development work in India and Sri Lanka.

In 2017, Judd became a figure in the Women's March on Washington, galvanizing the angry crowd with her rendition of "Nasty Woman" by young poet Nina Donovan.

She is also involved in the Me Too and Time's Up movements, and became in 2018 the godmother and host of the international event "#MeToo & prostitution: Survivors break the silence!", organized in Paris by the associations Osez le féminisme!, CAP International and Mouvement du Nid, aiming to give voice to abolitionist activists who are survivors of various forms of prostitution.

 

Megan Twohey is an American journalist working for The New York Times. She previously wrote investigative stories for Reuters, Chicago Tribune and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Her investigations have uncovered numerous scandals, led to criminal convictions, and helped spur new legislation to protect vulnerable people and children.

In 2009, in Chicago Tribune, she warned that many suburban Chicago police departments were not testing all rape kits. The following year, Illinois became the first U.S. state to require all rape kits to be tested, followed by many other states.

 From 2010 to 2011, she published a series of articles for Chicago Tribune detailing cases of doctors who had been convicted of violent or sexual crimes and continued to practice and abuse their patients. Her reports were recognized as having led to the passage of new laws and policies in Illinois aimed at protecting patients, such as requiring background checks on health care providers.

In 2013, she published an investigative story for Reuters News exposing how some people in America were using the Internet to find places to give up their adopted children. Her work investigating and exposing these underground networks was honored with a Sydney Award and the Michael Kelly Award.

In 2016, for The New York Times, she collaborated with Michael Barbaro on several investigative stories about the sexual misconduct of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. She continued to report on these incidents in 2017, despite Trump's threats to sue the New York Times if it did not remove the articles, which the paper refused to do. 

 

Jodi Kantor is an American journalist and correspondent for The New York Times whose work focuses on the workplace, technology and gender.

She was also the editor of the Arts & Leisure section of The New York Times, when she was only 28 years old, making her the youngest person to ever run a section of the famous newspaper.

Her 2006 article, "On the Job, Nursing Mothers Find a 2-Class System", about the class gap in breastfeeding, inspired the creation of the first stand-alone breastfeeding stations, now installed in hundreds of airports, stadiums and other workplaces in the United States.

She publishes stories on the treatment of women on Wall Street and in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Following her publication, Harvard Business School Dean, Nitin Nohria, apologized to all former female students for the negative experiences many of them had had at Harvard, and pledged to increase the number of case studies with female protagonists.

In 2007, Kantor turned to politics for Times magazine. She notably covered the 2008 presidential campaign and the biography of Barack Obama. She wrote some of the first articles on Michelle Obama, the role of the Obama daughters in their father's career, the role of basketball in the President's life, his relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright and his career as a constitutional law professor.

In 2009, she co-authored the story of Michelle Obama's slave roots and wrote a cover story for the New York Times about their marriage, for which she interviewed the President and First Lady in the Oval Office.

Kantor is also the author of the 2012 book "The Obamas," which captures the presidential couple's adjustment to the new world of the White House, revealing Michelle Obama's initial struggle and eventual reversal in her role.

Praise and good reviews poured in. Journalists call the book "deeply reported and nuanced", "largely sympathetic" and "insightful and evocative, rich with detail".

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein calls it "among the very best books on this White House" and "a serious, thoughtful book on the modern presidency".

In the New York Times, Connie Schultz praises the book: "A meticulous reporter, Ms. Kantor is attuned to the nuance of small gestures, the import of unspoken truths. […] Ms. Kantor also — and this is a key — has a high regard for women, which is why hers is the first book about the Obama presidency to give Michelle Obama her due."

Kantor also explores how technology is changing the workplace. In 2014, her article "Working Anything but 9 to 5," about a Starbucks barista and single mother struggling to keep up with a work schedule set by automated software, prompted the coffee chain to revise scheduling policies for 130,000 workers across the United States. 

In 2015, she and David Streitfeld published "Inside Amazon," an article about Amazon's white-collar employee management practices. The article elicits a response from Jeff Bezos, breaks the newspaper's all-time record for reader comments, prompts former employees of the company to come forward with their experiences online, and sparks a national debate about workplace fairness and productivity in the technology field.

In 2016, she co-authored "Refugees Welcome", spending 15 months chronicling how ordinary Canadian citizens adopted tens of thousands of Syrian refugees. The series gained millions of readers and praise from around the world, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who called it "remarkable and very human".

Jodi Kantor has received awards from Columbia College, PEN America, Feminist Press and the Los Angeles Press Club. In 2004, Crain's magazine named her one of the 40 most influential and promising New Yorkers. Hollywood Reporter named her one of the most powerful women in entertainment, and ReCode as one of the most influential people in media or technology in 2017. In 2018, she received the George Polk Award and the McGill Medal for journalistic courage from Grady College of Journalism.

 

Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, on October 5, 2017, release a report on famed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein detailing decades of sexual abuse allegations. More than 80 women publicly accused him of sexually assaulting or abusing them. This led to Weinstein's dismissal and helped ignite the viral Me Too movement launched by American activist Tarana Burke.

Their work was honored in 2018, when The New York Times was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for public service. Twohey and Kantor also win the George Polk Award and are named on Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people of the year.

In 2019, they collaborate on a book recounting their report on Weinstein, entitled "She Said". The book is adapted to the big screen in 2022, with the eponymous film directed by Maria Schrador.

 

Article by Julie Poutrel for Adama Toulon.