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May 16, 2024 62 mins

Legendary actress Jane Fonda found her calling for activism in the 60s and never looked back. At age 86, she continues to pursue change with a contagious enthusiasm and necessary urgency. 
 
The Oscar winner joins Sophia for a conversation that explores her complicated childhood, her relationship with her father, and how she untangled herself from the pressures of Hollywood. A true work in progress, Jane also examines her resilience and where she hopes to improve in what she calls her final act.
 
These days, Fonda is busier than ever fighting climate change and invites listeners to join the Jane Fonda Climate Pac by texting JANE to 40506. For more information on the important work she’s doing, visit JanePac.com. 

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hi, everyone, It's Sophia. Welcome to Work in Progress. Hello,
my friends in Progress. Today is a very special day

(00:21):
on this podcast. Someone that I look up to so tremendously,
who is larger than life and so inspirational, is taking
time out of her day today to be here with us.
Today's guest is Jane Fonda.

Speaker 2 (00:35):
You guys.

Speaker 1 (00:38):
Jane Vonda is an icon from her numerous Academy Award
nominations and wins, by the way to her incredibly acclaimed
career as an actor, a film and television producer. She
even revolutionized the fitness industry. I mean hello Jane Vonda's
workout in nineteen eighty two. You guys. This woman has

(01:00):
done it all as a performer and as a leader,
and most impressively to me, as an incredible activist. Jane
has used the privilege of her platform to stand up
for other people for her whole life as an anti
war activist during the Vietnam War. Publicly launching into anti

(01:22):
war work during the Vietnam era, Jane decided to travel
the world and learn from people, whether they were Green berets,
indigenous leaders, women on the forefront of feminist movements, for
equity and equality and now for so many years, Jane
has been leading on climate. As young climate activist Greta

(01:45):
Tunberg said, our house is on fire and we need
to act like it. Jane was so inspired by Greta,
by Reverend Barber's moral Mondays, and by Randall Robinson's anti
apartheid protests.

Speaker 2 (01:57):
She took all of that.

Speaker 1 (01:58):
Inspiration and launched fire Drill Fridays in collaboration with Greenpeace
in twenty nineteen. She started in Washington, d C. With
a series of peaceful actions and brought together frontline activists,
youth leaders, indigenous leaders, climate experts, celebrities and activists and
lovers of the planet to demand that our elected leaders
act on the climate emergency. Since its inception, her movement

(02:23):
to fight the global climate disaster has inspired millions of
people to participate in nonviolent direct action and counted more
than twelve million viewers joining virtually during the pandemic, Jane
has inspired people around the world, and as we launch
into an election year, she is here to talk to

(02:44):
us about what matters for the nation, what matters for
the planet, and for our fellow Californians. What matters to
us here in our home state. So let's dive in
and learn from the icon herself. So many things I

(03:09):
want to ask you about. You know, there's such a
tremendous amount of work you do outside of you know,
the work that you became known for as being such
an incredible performer and you know, an award winning actor,
and your activism has always been such a part of
your identity. You've always spent the privilege of your platform

(03:32):
to try to support people. And in recent years, you know,
you and I have really been able to spend some
time together working on activism around the climate crisis. And
there's just there's so much that you do, you know,
as the woman you are and with your pack and
the way that you inspire all of us. But before

(03:54):
we get to where we find ourselves today, I like
to go back really to the beginning with people and
learn about where you come from. Because I'm always very
curious if now, you know, they say hindsight's twenty twenty,
if when you look back at your life, even into
your childhood, you see the through line of this woman

(04:15):
who was always going to lead. Do you see her
in yourself at you know, eight or nine or ten
years old.

Speaker 2 (04:24):
You know, I guess, Sophia. What really matters, and it's
harder to remember is the one, two, three, four year olds,
you know, the really early stuff. But yeah, I as
I was approaching sixty, which I considered my last act,
I kind of divided my life into the first thirty years,

(04:45):
first act, second years, and then the last act. Starting
at sixty, I kind of I became very concerned because
this is the last act. Last acts are important. How
am I so post to navigate this? What should I
do in this final act? And it occurred to me,

(05:06):
and it really when I was fifty nine, looking at
the next year that was going to raise the curtain
on my final act, I thought, I just feel that
in order to know where I have to go, I've
got to know where I've been. And I began to
research myself and what I found. You know, I spent
a lot of time literally like I was somebody else,

(05:27):
objectively researching this person. One of the things that I
hadn't really realized is that I'm brave, and I've been
brave always from the very beginning. You know. It's very
The idea of resilience I find very interesting because you
can have a siblings born almost at the same you know,
in the same year or two of same parents, and

(05:50):
one will be resilient and the other won't. It's mysterious.
I don't I'm not sure that resilience is something you
can learn or teach yourself. I think you're kind of
born with it. And when I thought back on it,
what I when I realized I was resilient is my

(06:10):
childhood was very privileged in terms of having all the
material things that I wanted and everything, but my mother
suffered from mental illness and my father was away a lot.
And like all resilient children, I was able to, like
a radar, scan the horizon for any sign of a

(06:31):
living being that could love me or teach me something,
and I would lom onto them and they would and
yet love. A non resilient child could be surrounded by
love and not able to metabolize it, not realize that
they can take it in and you know, and take

(06:52):
it into their body. And so I was always resilient
and brave.

Speaker 1 (06:57):
It's interesting to hear you talk about your acts in
the way that you frame them, and this idea of resilience.
I love that you can see it into your childhood.
And I think what's been really interesting for me is
the shift into forty has been It has been a
shift into resiliency, I think because I really am finally

(07:18):
starting to learn what I want and what I deserve.
And that feels like a big, a big shift. Yeah yeah,
but I love hearing that fifty is so fabulous. I
can't wait.

Speaker 2 (07:31):
Well, you know, I wrote a book called Primetime about aging,
because you know, anything that frightens me, I try to
make my best friend. I try to know as much
as I can about it and put my and strangled
it to death with love. What scares me and aging
scares me. And when I was in my forties, I
wrote a book called Women Coming of Age. I hadn't

(07:54):
even entered menopause yet, but I wanted to understand as
much as I could before and then so my seventies
I wrote a book called Primetime, which is really good.
And writing that book, I did some research and I
found out because I thought, you know, our historic view
of aging, as you're born, you peak at midlife and

(08:14):
then you decline into decrepitude, right, And my experience wasn't
like that at all. It was like my earlier life
was not so good. And I feel like I've been
on an upward projectory. It's more like a staircase rather
than an arch. Then my research showed me that there's
been a really important longitudinal study of hundreds of thousands

(08:37):
of people, all races, men, women, divorce, married that showed
that over fifty in general, people tend to feel a
sense of wellbeing more, They are more able to view
things from another person's point of view. They don't make
mountains out of molehills. I mean that is also assuming

(08:59):
relative good health, yes, which not everybody can assume. But
it made me realize, oh, it's not just me aging.
You know, life gets strangely easier assuming health.

Speaker 1 (09:11):
Yes, yeah, I love that, And what an amazing perspective
I think, to be able to really look at not
only your own life and your resiliency, but to your point,
to understand where your privilege is, to understand, you know,
how to help spend it for others. You mentioned that,

(09:33):
you know, when you were young, things were complex. You
had a mother who struggled with mental illness. Your father was,
you know, a wonderful actor. You grew up around the business.
But as we know, being an actor means you have
to leave your life and your family all the time.

Speaker 3 (09:49):
Was was it natural for you to pursue a career
as a performer or did you have hesitations about it
because you knew the inside of how hard it could be.

Speaker 2 (10:01):
Oh, I didn't want to be an actor because my dad,
you know, when he'd come home from work, he never
brought joy. There was always a it was always a problem,
always trouble at work. I mean, so I never got
the sense that this is a profession that could bring

(10:23):
you joy. And plus I didn't have confidence, and my
dad thought I was fat, So I thought I was
fat and all those things which put a big distance
between me and the profession of acting. But then in
my in my late teens and early twenties, well, I
had to get a job because my stepmother didn't want
me living at home, and I became a secretary. I
got fired. I mean, I didn't know. I just didn't.

(10:45):
I didn't know what to do. And then I met
Lee Strasburg's daughter, Susan Strasburg, and she said, well, why
don't you talk to my dad about being in his classes?
And he viewed me and he took me into his classes,
and wow, and he said that I was talented, and
so that's what kind of got me interested in acting.

(11:08):
But it was just because I didn't know what else
to do. Frankly, I'm not one of those people who
you know, dressed up and put on performances for her
family and all that kind of thing. I never dreamed.
I never assumed. Everything that's happened in my life is
beyond my wildest assumption when I was little. If you

(11:28):
had told me that at my age now i'd still be,
you know, working and everything like I am today, I
would have said you were crazy. And so this is
just all a big surprise and a cherry on the cake.

Speaker 1 (11:39):
It's incredible.

Speaker 2 (11:41):
One of the things that I'm proud about my life
is that I very intentionally tried to grow. I didn't
like myself. I wanted to change, and so I went
about doing it. When I want to do something, I
just go about it are percent. And that's allowed me to,

(12:06):
you know, to develop what wasn't naturally mine. And I'm
very proud of that.

Speaker 1 (12:10):
And now for our sponsors, the proof is in the putting,
as they say, I mean, you've got oscars on the shelf,
you've got social movements, you've helped to lead. You have
this beautiful, accomplished career, and to your point, you're still working.
And you know, I just watched this interview that you

(12:34):
and Lily Tomlin did together. You're just razzing each other,
you know, and you're the humor and the way that
you two play as these friends who you know, play
best friends on TV. I'm obsessed with you both and
I and I love hearing you frame it that way
that you're going to go for it one hundred percent
and make it yours because my brain is going, well,

(12:57):
of course, everything I've ever seen you do, you've done
incredibly and I think it's why so many of us
look up to you in the way we do and
are so enamored with you. And you know, I pinch myself,
like we meet up to talk about how we're going
to fix something or work on something, and I'm.

Speaker 2 (13:14):
Like, what again.

Speaker 1 (13:15):
The kid in me who went to theater school and
studied journalism is like, yeah, I'm just here spending my
day with Jane Fonda.

Speaker 2 (13:22):
What Like? This is wild?

Speaker 1 (13:24):
It really is wild. And I have to just say
thank you for the way that you've welcomed so many
of us in and said, hey, we're in this together.
How did you begin? Because people ask me sometimes they'll say, well,
you're an actor, but you're so political, and why do
you feel motivated that way? And are you ever scared
it's going to ding your career? And I'm always like,

(13:45):
look at Jane Fonda. How do you feel like you
had the courage as a young woman succeeding in our industry,
you know, which does often tell you to stay quiet
and you know, be mysterious so you can be taken
as a character. How did you have the confidence to
step out and say I want to defend the world.

(14:11):
I don't just want to tell stories about it. I
really want to stand up for it. When was that
shift for you?

Speaker 2 (14:16):
Well, it was not early in my life. It was
in my thirties. I was pregnant and do you have
have you had children?

Speaker 1 (14:26):
No, not yet.

Speaker 2 (14:27):
When a woman is pregnant, she's like a sponge. Just
it's a great learning opportunity and a teaching opportunity. She
just everything affects her, everything incoming. Well, I was pregnant
in nineteen sixty eight. Everything happened in nineteen sixty eight
all over the world, and I lived in France and

(14:50):
I was pregnant when the tet offense have happened, and
I saw that on French television, which showed more than
American television did. I met some soldiers who had deserted
from Vietnam. They were war resistors and they were in
Paris looking for compatriots to help them find doctors, dentists, clothing,
you know. They were American working class guys who needed support,

(15:14):
and they contacted me. They somebody gave them my number
and I met with them and I asked them about
the war, which at that point I had done. I
didn't really understand it, and I assumed that if we
were fighting there that it was okay. I was naiven, uninvolved,
and I was thirty, and they talked about the war

(15:39):
and what was going on, and they told me about
the things that they had witnessed which were horrifying, and
I didn't believe it. And they gave me a book
by Jonathan Shell called The Village of Benzok, and it's
a small book, and when I finished it, that was
it my life. I realized that I had totally not
understood what was happening. I totally wanted to join the

(16:02):
anti war movement. That I had been watching on television
and I did, and that was that you know, you know,
you owe. Once I understood, then I felt that I
had to do something about it. So, because it was
socials that turned me on to what was happening, when
I returned to the United States, I became involved in

(16:25):
the GI movement. It was active duty servicemen who were
opposed to the war, and they had civilian supporters. But
what really affected me, Sophia, was the women that I met,
the activists, the seasoned activists that I met who were
supporting the GI movement. I remember one outside of Fort

(16:51):
Hood in Colleen, Texas. She really saw me, she really
heard was She asked me how I felt about like,
you know, they would send me onto the base with
leaflets announcing a rally we were going to have. I
would lead the rally, things like are you comfortable? She

(17:11):
she didn't. I never felt used. She wasn't opportunistic. I
mean it was weird in those days because Barbarella had
just come out and I would go I would be
invited to speak at a theater and the headline would
be here Barbarella speak. But the women were totally they

(17:33):
weren't competitive, They didn't treat me like a celebrity. Being
with these women was like looking through a keyhole at
the future that we were fighting for. And it was
like a whole new world opened up to me of
people with totally different values. I mean, my dad had
great values and shows in many of his movies, but

(17:55):
he was older, and you know he was he could
not have been an activist. It wasn't in his da.
But these people really changed me. These women specifically change
It changed me a lot and sent me on a
path to try to become a different kind of person.
And then when the controversy started hitting, part of it,

(18:17):
Sophia was I was viewed as, which is true, a
privileged white, you know, celebrity daughter of all that stuff.
You know, she'll she'll be a puss, Push her a
little criticized, give her some shit and she'll collapse. And
I was like, oh, yeah, just try me, try me.

(18:38):
Yeah you think I'm an easy push Okay, I'll show you.
And I just it was two things that kept me
going despite the incredible controversy, which really was very intense
and very hateful and not totally undeserved. I I was
determined to show them that I wasn't some privileged softy

(18:59):
number two. I was part of a movement. I was
not alone, and that's what really matters. And it's what's
beautiful about being an activist is you come into community
with people who share your values. Yes, And you know,
I'd spent so much of my life having to, you know,
being with people who I had to look perfect always.

(19:22):
I had to be very thin, to be very blonde,
I had to be very sexy. I had to do
all and so it's like all of what was interesting
about me moved out and lived alongside in a shadow
world that was the more interesting stuff was over there.
And I was, you know, a fairly boring, conventional, pretty

(19:46):
girl that would do whatever the guy wanted. And leaving
that behind was a joy. Being activists became a joy.

Speaker 1 (19:57):
Yes, because you don't have to you perform for the
approval of others. You can actually use your passion to
stand alongside other people changes it just it does really
change your life. I'm curious because you know, it was
the anti war movement that brought you into these circles
that illuminated so much for you, And what brought me

(20:21):
into activist circles was actually climate change and pulling on
that thread when you start to realize everything is connected.
And for me as a young woman, it was climate
change led me to the issues of women and girls
around the world, and education and you know, disparities that
happen with the isms, whether it be you know, racism

(20:42):
or homophobia or sexism. And you, as you said, once
you know, you owe. When you see how connected all
these issues are, you can never unsee. How did the
anti war space bring you into climate defense and environmentalism.

Speaker 2 (21:01):
I spent my child, my first decade in the ocean,
the Pacific Ocean. I've always loved the ocean, and I
grew up in the hills above Brentwood, the Santa Monica Mountains,
looking out over the ocean and seeing Catalina. There was
no smog, there were no ways anyway, long story short,

(21:25):
I've always cared about nature. I've always felt most comfortable
in nature. I've always saw nature whenever I needed answers.
I like being fourteen thousand feet up, et cetera. So
the anti war movement brought me to my second husband,
Tom Hayden, who wrote the Portieron Statement and founded SDS.

(21:46):
Not the violent SDS, but he was a movement heavy
as they say, he was brilliant, he was charismatic, he'd
written many books. I fell madly for him, and we
were true comrades during the anti war movement, and we
did a lot of really good stuff together and then
and I learned so much from him, And when the
war ended, we switched our focus to economic democracy, the

(22:10):
fact that corporations were really running the government. In the
process of shifting our focus and me trying to wrap
my mind around to economics, which is not my strong suit,
I began to realize how chauvinistic the movement was, and
I began to focus more on women's issues. And I

(22:32):
became friends with Lauria and with eventslur and you know,
women who made me become an embodied feminist. And for
a long time that's what I focus on all the time,
being an environmentalist, but I didn't devote my life to that.
It was more about women's empowerment and equality, and I've

(22:52):
traveled the world on behalf of that struggle. And then
I realized that the climate crisis was happening now, This
wasn't a future thing, and that very specific things had
to happen fast to cut our emissions in half, and

(23:16):
we had to stop all new fossil fuel projects, you know, infrastructure,
no newer fracking or mining, and that we had to
keep the warming at a certain level or we were
going to it was going to get out of control,
beyond what human beings could do. Tipping points were going
to happen. And when it was about five years ago

(23:37):
that I decided, this is the existential, you know, meaning
this is what is going to determine our existence or not.
And women bear the brunt of it. And so to
confront this is also working together with women, and women
are the main forces in the solutions to the climate
crisis for reasons that we could spend an hour talking

(23:58):
just about that. When it hit me and it you know,
books are always my epiphany, you know. It was the
book about Vietnam. It was Naomi Klein's book called on Fire.
Then literally I read it, I put it down, I
got on the phone. I call Annie Leonard, who is
my mentor and who was at that time running Green Peace,

(24:18):
and I said, I'm gonna I want to move to
DC and raise hell about this. I want to do
something that's going to really matter. And together with Bill
mckibbon and Naomi Kleine. We figured out what became fire
Drove Fridays. Yes, And I had been before then. I'd
been so depressed because I knew that I wasn't really

(24:40):
that was it was the summer that the sky was
brown orange in California. Yes, we're falling dad out of
the sky and it was like armageddon. And you know,
that was when I realized, this is what I'm going
to do for the rest of my life. Like this year,
I can't even imagine working as an actor. This is

(25:01):
the most important election that we've ever had because it's
going to determine the future. And so this is, you know,
this is full time for me. And I'm surrounded by
brilliant people. You know, I have a small team of
about six people on my Jane Fonda Climate back and
and so I feel I'm working in community with people

(25:21):
teach me every day and I'm exactly where I where
I need and want to be. It's great, that's wonderful.

Speaker 1 (25:30):
So how can you tell for our friends listening at
home who might not know about fire Drill Fridays what
it is and how long you ran it and what
you all were doing because my goodness, did I ever
love watching you? That's like the greatest part about us
being in this internet age is just being able to

(25:50):
see what everybody's doing. And the number of times I
watched you getting escorted off Capitol Hill and handcuffs, I
was like, Jane's the coolest person I know. So will
you tell the listeners about fire drill Fridays.

Speaker 2 (26:01):
Well, in the eighties, there was a movement against apartheid
in South Africa. It wasn't just every week, I think
it was every day they would engage in civil disobedience
outside in DC, outside the South African Embassy, and it
grew huge. It got really big, and it worked. And

(26:25):
so Bill mckibbon, the founder of three fifty dot org
and brilliant writer and activists, he suggested that we copy that.
I'll only do it every Friday if the young activists
who were already including Greta Tunberg, would welcome me into

(26:45):
activism on Fridays. And our goal was not so much
to influence the government, but we knew that about seventy
percent of Americans are concerned about the climate, but they've
never become active. They've never joined a rally or a protest,
they said, because nobody asked them, so the great unasked.

(27:07):
Our goal with fire Real Friday was to inspire and
mobilize the unasked to become active, and they came from
all over the country, people who had never been part
of a rally before. That was the one thing that
I just loved about what we did. And we were
in DC for about five months, and I also loved
the fact that I would bring celebrities there who sometimes

(27:31):
they spoke, but most of the time they were just
there to interview frontline voices, indigenous people, people you know,
who were the most hardest hit by the climate crisis,
people whose voices aren't heard, and that I was so
proud of that. And then COVID hit, so I had
to come home and we started doing fire Real Fridays
online for two years during the COVID pandemic, and you know,

(27:55):
we had nine million people in twenty twenty, ten million
people in twenty twenty one. It was pretty great, and
a lot of them were turned into activists. And we
did our last virtual fire Drill Friday inary this month January.
I was with Naomi Klein. She was there at the
beginning and was a nice full circle. And then as

(28:21):
part of in a way fire drill Fridays, I've been
working with Greenpeace on a documentary about what oil and
LNG fracked gas is doing in Texas and Louisiana people
to the climate, to the environment, and so we're working
on that and we're not doing any more virtual fire
real Fridays because we're we're we're still calling on the

(28:45):
people that became activists, but we're focusing so much on
the electoral Yes, at the end of the five years,
Annie Leonard and my team looked at each other and said,
you know, the problem is this is great, and we
need more and more people to become active, but there
are too many people in elected office, both in Washington
and in states up in well states who block good

(29:09):
legislation because they take money from the fossil fuel industry. Yes,
so we have to get rid of them. So we
started the Jane Fond of Climate pac to elect climate
champions and try to get rid of the oily Democrats
who the moderate Democrats who take fossil fuel money and
won't vote for good legislation. And this here we're focusing
on California because we have really we have ten wonderful

(29:34):
candidates here that we get into office. Yeah, it's taken
too long to make stuff happen here.

Speaker 1 (29:39):
We'll be back in just a minute after a few
words from our favorite sponsors. I think that's a really
important thing to point out for the folks listening. We
see so much debate and infighting in our political system,
and we do know that so many members perarticularly of

(30:00):
the right, you know, the GOP or bought and paid
for by big oil and fossil fuel industries. I think
it's incredibly important for people to know what you just
brought up, that there are also folks on the Democratic
side who because our political system is so broken, because
we did not defeat Citizens United, because these people have

(30:22):
to raise it's something crazy. It's like, you know, forty
thousand dollars a week or something just to stay in office.
I mean, it's it's wild how broken the system is.
And the broken system sort of you know, it's like
it ripples out into everything in our society. We see
the effects of who's making the decisions, who's paying for legislation,

(30:48):
and the climate is not something we have time to
debate about left versus right. Republican versus Democrat. We've got
to unite on this. There's no planet being, there's no
second option. If we warm past a point, everything changes.
Crops are devastated, food supply collapses, clean water is over.

(31:10):
And this will affect every single person, no matter what
you look like, how you vote, where you live. But
it will always affect communities of color, at risk communities
and women first and worst. And I think for us
to just agree that these facts are facts and that
we've got to do something about them is one of

(31:32):
the most pressing issues of our time. So for our
friends at home, you know, Jane and I agree, and
I'm sure you're all nodding your heads while you're listening
to us that we are not exaggerating when we say
this really is the most important election of our time.
The elections have gotten more and more fraud and more
and more dangerous, and we are on this razor's edge

(31:53):
now of making sure women get to maintain their rights
to bodily autonomy and that all all of us get
to live on a planet that's actually inhabitable. So when
we talk about twenty twenty four and the incredible work
that you're doing, Jane, with the Jane Fond of Climate Pack.
I really hope everyone listening signs up to come with us.

(32:14):
We've got a lot of work ahead, and it is
a national issue and a global issue certainly, But for
our friends in California, Jane, I would love for you
to talk about what's happening with Senate Bill eleven thirty seven,
because what happens in California will set the tone for
what happens in the rest of the country in terms

(32:36):
of how we stand up against these big oil polluters.
And so if you live here, we need your voice
on this. And if you don't live here, we need
you to pay attention to this race because what happens
here will definitely come for you next. So that I
really want to dig into with you, because you hosted
an event recently and educated so many of us in

(32:57):
LA about this, and I just want everybody to know
what you're teaching us about.

Speaker 2 (33:02):
Thank you, Sophia. There are two point seven million Californians
live next to an oil well. They suffer because of it,
their health, cancer, heart disease, lung disease, asthma, kids miss
months of school, and they've been fighting and many of
us with them to create setbacks, which means a law

(33:24):
that says no oil wells or fracking pits can come
within X distance from communities because right now they wake
up and look out the window and there's an oil
well right outside their bedroom or all around their playing
fields and so forth. And finally, Gavin Newsom two years
ago passed a bill, signed it, sent it Bill eleven

(33:45):
thirty seven that said they created a thirty two hundred
foot setback within which no oil wells could go, and
historic and a lot of celebrating, And the next week
the oil companies began to gather signatures to get a
ballot measure on this year that would overturn it or
prevent it from going into effect. And they spent forty

(34:08):
three million dollars gathering signatures for this. We're told we're
going to spend two hundred million dollars to win. We
don't know why exactly. I mean, can there be that
much oil still left in these communities? But maybe it's
just don't tell me what to do kind of a thing.
But at any rate, they're really fighting it. Maybe because
when we win, we have to win. It's going to

(34:29):
set a precedent that they don't like and so we
are working like hell, organizing the state in California, raising
money to defeat the oil companies who are lying to people.
They have wonderful slick ads saying that if if Senate
Bill eleven thirty seven passes, their gases are going to
go up, et cetera. It's not true. Oh that's not

(34:52):
how it works. So but we have to. We have
a person named Chris Layman who's running our campaign, who's
done twenty two referendum battles and won them all, so
you know we have that. And the campaign is going
to be announced in March with together Gavin Newsom and ARNL. Schwarzenegger,
which is really great.

Speaker 1 (35:12):
Wow.

Speaker 2 (35:14):
And I'm doing an art auction in April right after
they announced the campaign to raise a lot of money.
It's on April ninth. But just be sure you all
who are watching to vote for maintaining or creating the
setback the thirty two hundred feet don't see the lies
that the oil companies are going to put out about

(35:34):
why that's a bad idea, because we can't keep doing
this to people. The bill not only prevents new oil
wells from coming close to communities, but it demands that
the oil companies clean up the wells that are already there,
make them less you know, leaking, more safe in terms
of the air and everything else. It's a big success.

(35:57):
I want to say something about you talked about the
political situation being broken. I've been very critical of Joe Biden,
and I've been very angry with him. But what I've
been finding out recently is that there is so much

(36:19):
being done that's fabulous and very important that it's not sexy,
it's not front page news. It's little things that have
to happen in order for the transition to renewables to
go forward. Yes, and nobody knows about it, and it
just shows how critical it is that we reelect Joe Biden.

(36:42):
And also, I mean example, I just spent three weeks
down in Texas and Xiana working on this documentary and
it's just it's like being in the belly of the beast.
It's worse than I can't even describe what it's doing
to the people and the environment there. And we were
going to have a big protest in DC in a
week and Friday. This last Friday, Joe Biden's administration announced

(37:08):
they were putting a pause on LNG exports. This is huge, huge,
it's huge. It throws into question the exporting of LNG,
which you know, which we never used to export this stuff.
It all happened started and when Obama lifted the export

(37:28):
ban in twenty fifteen, and it's it's just what it
shows is that Joe Biden can be pressured. You know,
he creates a context where you can pressure. Fascism offers
no context like that. There's no terrain in fascism where
you can be a righteous activist and do the right

(37:50):
thing and have an official agree with you. Finally, you know,
it just doesn't work that way. So voting for him
is not marrying him. A pragmatic decision, that's it, so
that you aren't dealing with fascism. And there's no protest
vote this year. We have no room for what happened
in two thousand, which now we have to hold our

(38:14):
nose and vote Democrat and all the way down the ballot.

Speaker 1 (38:19):
And I think what's incredibly important to remind people of
is that because people will say, well, but I don't
agree on this issue or that issue. Everybody has a
fill in the blank where they say, this is not
the candidate of my dreams, and I get that, but
you don't get to root for a team that isn't
playing in the super Bowl to win the Super Bowl.

(38:40):
Pragmatism is required for progress. And to your point, we
have a candidate who is a fascist, who wants to
roll back rights for everyone but rich white men and
literally sell off the country for parts and become a
dictator and has said all of this out loud. This
is not exaggeration. He's said, if I win, I'm never leaving,

(39:03):
so okay, dictatorship. Or you have somebody who is willing
to compromise sometimes with people we don't like, which upsets us.
But he's trying to get things done. He's made incredible
progress despite plenty of things we disagree with him on,
you know, including the Willow Project for US climate activists.
He's passed more legislation that is more comprehensive for more

(39:26):
people in America than any president in sixty years. The
Infrastructure Act has been one of the greatest revitalization projects
for the nation in history. And yeah, there's all sorts
of stuff we could all complain about. But to your point,
when we make noise and we tell this administration what
is important to us, they go and legislate on it.

(39:47):
They go and they listen to us, and they go
and do the work. And that to me is the difference.
You have to elect someone who is going to work
on your behalf, not harm for their own gain, and
then who will admit, when perhaps they haven't made something
a top five priority, that they realize their constituency wants
them to, and they go do it. That's the whole

(40:08):
point of having elected officials and representation in the first place.
So I think it's incredibly important, as you said, to
be pragmatic. And if we want to build this utopia
we believe is possible, we have to make the pragmatic
steps to get there. And if we want to have
an option where we can vote for a third party candidate,

(40:31):
well then we should make one of our causes passing
ranked choice voting nationally. But we can't pretend we have
these possible outcomes that don't exist unless we do the
work to create them. It's our job as voters to
go out and pressure and create progress. And so I
say we go do it, and I say we do

(40:53):
it this year on climate and on our rights as
women first and foremost, I love you, I love you, Jane.

Speaker 2 (41:01):
Were your parents' activists.

Speaker 1 (41:03):
You know, it's really interesting. My parents, when I first
started really putting my neck out there, you know, publicly
for political projects, were so nervous. But then I started
to really think about, you know, where they come from.
And my dad moved here in the seventies from Canada

(41:25):
to go to art school, was very you know, anti war.
It took him until I was thirteen years old to
become an American citizen. So when people say like, oh,
do it the right way, I'm like, do you even
know what that means? Like I had to help my
dad study for his citizenship test when it was finally time.
My mom's family immigrated through Ellis Island from Italy. You know,

(41:49):
they had their own American dream story. My grandfather was
a navy man.

Speaker 2 (41:55):
A lot of a lot of beauty.

Speaker 1 (41:58):
Around the idea of what a country could be for people,
you know, when we strive to be a more perfect union,
which I think is what us activists are working towards
always And they will say no, they weren't, but they
totally were. My mom was you know, incredibly independent and progressive,

(42:19):
and you know, my Dad's this artist, immigrant, like interesting
man who has always sort of seen through some of
the you know, insanity, particularly in our healthcare system. Because
Canada has great, you know, universal health care. We spend
the most on sickness of any nation in the world,
and we have the worst health outcome. So if we

(42:40):
had a better healthcare system, that would be great for
everyone and cheaper for the government. But I think now
in our sort of adult friendship that we have with
each other, they're in their seventies and you know, I'm
now in my early forties, they sort of see where
I get it, and they think I'm an anomaly. It's
a little it's a little both.

Speaker 2 (43:01):
And oh but they support you. Oh yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 1 (43:07):
I think they used to be scared, you know, to
your point, the pushback is scary for parents and for parents,
you know, to read with the internet, you know, the
way the trolls are and the bots are, people are disgusting.
And I think they were nervous. But much like you,
the harder people push at me and tell me to
be quiet, the more I'm like, oh, watch this, and

(43:29):
I think eventually they just meant that's our kid, Like
that's who she's going to be.

Speaker 2 (43:34):
Yeah, my dad was nervous too, probably like your parents.
He remembered the fifties and the witch hunts, yes, wealthy days,
and he was worried that that was going to destroy
my career. But you know, I whenever I would learn
something about Vietnam, like I had a young soldier. I
was at a military base in northern California and this

(43:57):
very young guy, he could almost not talk above a
whisper for trying to tell me that he had killed
a child, and you know, the stuff that I'd heard,
and I so I would go home and tell my dad.
I had no money, so I lived with my dad,
you know, after I left France, and I told him
about this, and he said to me, if you can

(44:19):
prove that that's that this is true? He didn't believe it.
He said they they wouldn't tell you if that was true.
And I said, if you can. He said, if you
can prove it, I will lead a march on Washington.
And so I brought some green berets to talk to
him and ours. But you know, my dad, it was
a generation. They it wasn't in my dad's genes to

(44:42):
lead marches or anything like that. But he he worried. However,
I was friends anyway. That's never mind too much, I
talked too much. No, I love it.

Speaker 1 (44:53):
It's it's also I think it's really powerful too to
hear stories that, especially from someone like you. You know, you,
you are this woman in our world, Jane. You've inspired
so many of us. You're larger than life, and I
don't know, I find it really touching an eye opening
to hear about, you know, your dad just being worried

(45:16):
about his daughter. I think sometimes when you reach these
upper echelons of you know, industries, When when you are
an Academy award winner, when you are a you know,
a lifelong famous person who can call a president who
you know, leads these marches and does these things, people
forget that you're also one human woman who has persevered

(45:38):
through fear to stand up for other people, who has
been willing to risk her privilege in order to weaponize
that privilege on the behalf of others. That's a big deal.
Privilege doesn't like to be given up. And I think
when you are willing to say, well, if I lose

(45:59):
it all, it was worth it for this, that that
kind of calling, much like resilience, what you were saying earlier.
Can't be taught. It comes from inside of you. It's
a fire that you know, maybe you know the source of,
and maybe you've just learned to let fuel yourself, but
it is, it is something that really knocks us over

(46:22):
when we look at it. And I don't know, I
find it. I find it so humanizing to be reminded
that your dad was like, kid, what are you doing?
Be careful, and you said, I'm going to do it anyway.
I think that's beautiful.

Speaker 2 (46:38):
I was friends with Angela Davis, and when she was
put in prison here in California, I visited her. And
when I came back from that visit, my dad called
me into his office and he said to me, if
I find out that you are a communist, I'm going
to be the first person to turn you in. And
I just I remember running to my bedroom and pulling

(47:02):
the sheets over my head and crying and crying and crying.
You know, later I could look back and understand he
was worried he'd experience the Macarthy era when people were destroyed.

Speaker 1 (47:12):
Yes, well, and people who are dangerous to power are
often persecuted. I mean, when you think back to Salem,
women who had these whisper networks, who you know, new medicine,
were persecuted for it. And when you think about that
terrible stain on American history, what McCarthyism did to so

(47:35):
many people, what it accused people of simply people who
were progressive, who were not enemies to the government, but
who wanted to see change. You know, it's not dissimilar
to what we see the former president of the United
States doing now, calling to jail and execute his detractors.

(47:56):
You know, this is very scary stuff, and when you
look at these cycles of history, it's terrifying to be
in the midst of it. And I imagine your dad
was very afraid. But I don't know what a cool
thing from this moment to be able to look back
at your legacy. You've been able to prove exactly the

(48:17):
kind of progressive that you are, exactly the kind of
American that you are. You're pushing us toward that more
perfect union where everyone is safe and everyone is represented.

Speaker 2 (48:28):
And I.

Speaker 1 (48:32):
Think the way you've been able to teach people that
that comes down to rights and equity, and the way
you've centered climate on that and really reminded us that
that is the ground zero for our existence. It's incredibly powerful.
I'd get such a kick out of it if your

(48:52):
dad could see you now, you know, yeah, you.

Speaker 2 (48:55):
Know what makes me sad, maybe above all else, is
how human beings have become so alienated from nature. We
just we don't understand that we depend on nature for
our survival and how healing nature can be for us.

(49:16):
You know, if that weren't the case, there would be
no climate crisis, just like if there was no racism
or patriarchy, there'd be no climate crisis. It's part of
a mindset. It's like nesting dolls with the climates to
keep discovering all the other parts to it. Yes, it

(49:39):
happens when people, men in particular, have a hierarchical view
of everything. You know, certain things matter more than other things.
Nature is way down here, along with wool and dogs,
but you know, white men are up here. It's these
are the people who are This is the mindset that
looks at a beautiful forest thinks flooring.

Speaker 1 (50:02):
Mmm mm hmm.

Speaker 2 (50:04):
Everything is for something else that will make money transactional. Yes,
how we have to work hard to get back to
to renewing our relationship with nature. That's why listening to
indigenous peoples are so important.

Speaker 1 (50:19):
Yes, we'll be back in just a minute, but here's
a word from our sponsors. How have you learned from
indigenous communities? How did you begin to make inroads as
a as a witness in those spaces and to uplift

(50:40):
those voices and what have those relationships taught you?

Speaker 2 (50:46):
Well, it taught me early on that you're showing up
is important, showing up respectfully. The very first thing I
did I leaving my family in France, and I had
made a trip to India because that's where people were going,
like the Beatles and mia Faro, to find truth. And

(51:07):
what I found was, I don't want to join a
nash Ram or smoke pot here. I want to join
the Peace Corps. I just I'm an activist. I came
home and there was a magazine called Ramparts, which was
a left wing, wonderful magazine doesn't exist anymore, with a
Native woman on the cover, her fist in the air
against a white wall that said better red than dead,

(51:30):
and the article was about why Indians had occupied Alcatraz.
They wanted to seize Alcatraz and turn it into a
cultural center, and it talked about the history of white
settlers trying to destroy a Native people. I really wasn't aware,

(51:52):
I'm sorry to say. I was already thirty one years old.
My father had been in all these westerns, but I
didn't really know the history. And I read it. It
was an article written because of the seizure of Alcatraz,
that was, but it gave the whole history. So I said,
what was I doing in India? I didn't, you know,

(52:12):
there's issues right here I have to deal with. And
so I went to Alcatraz during the occupation and I
met a lot of Native American people there. Then they
referred me to a fight that was going on in
Seattle for fishing rights, for the sale Shkutine the tribes
up there. That was the time I ever got arrested,
was seizing a fort there that they wanted to turn

(52:34):
into a cultural center and succeeded. But I just I
went from tribe to tribe to tribe to reservation reservent,
and I just met a lot of Native people and
talked to a lot of Native people. And at that time,
the American Indian movement was prominent, and they were not
they were not believers in holding on to the war

(52:58):
dances and the ceremonies and the dances and the prayers
so much, and there was a big split, do we
try to assimilate within the Indian movement or do we
maintain our culture and our past. And then years later,
being at Standing Rock and seeing how the ceremonies and

(53:20):
the sun dances and the prayers had helped so many
young people with addiction and alcoholism and so forth, that
they came all the way back to wanting to embrace
their traditions. And I just thought that that was very
important and very beautiful, because I've been part of that

(53:40):
whole transition and arguments so that I know enough Native
American people to know that there's a unique sense of
humor that I love. And it's just absolutely moving to
me how they've endured an attempted genocide on behalf of
the white, you know, being moved from land to land,

(54:03):
having their children kidnapped, put into Catholic schools, and so forth.
If I feel like if I was an Indigenous person here,
I'd want to have a machine gun, and instead, as
a people, they tend to want They're still trying to
teach us, still willing to step up and try to
teach us that there's another way of relating to nature

(54:24):
and another way of viewing things if we're open to listening.
And it's why, you know, with Firedroal Friday, there were
so many Indigenous voices, especially young Indigenous voices that I
had on and it was it was really beautiful. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (54:39):
One of the sometimes when I'm trying to learn, you know,
as you speak about you show up in community. When
people ask me, you know, how do you start, I say,
find the helpers, go to the people you want to
learn from, show up and shut up and learn from
them until you know enough to be able to speak up.

Speaker 2 (54:57):
And one of the.

Speaker 1 (54:59):
Things that really hap helps me when I'm trying to
learn about a populace or a community or a particular issue,
is I try to make sense of what affects me
so emotionally through statistics or math, because math I find
to be the only non emotional thing. And that stat
that indigenous peoples currently make up five percent of the

(55:20):
world's population but are responsible for the stewardship of eighty
five percent of the planet's biodiversity. The fact that any
of us are going, well, let's see what they know.
It's like, no, they know everything. And to your point,
we must learn how to relate better to the planet

(55:44):
that we live on if we would like to remain
guests here because we are you know, the world. If
we break it and humans can't live here anymore, the
planet will recover.

Speaker 2 (55:55):
We just won't.

Speaker 1 (55:57):
And I hope that eventually we pay attention in the
way that you know you have been teaching us to
pay attention to the wisdom in these communities for so long,
you know.

Speaker 2 (56:10):
I love that you say you say to people, go
to the people who you want to learn from. Yes.
I like that you call for community because you want
to go fast, go alone, but you want to go far,
go together. And I love courage that.

Speaker 1 (56:28):
Yes, And I think the most powerful thing I've learned
in the last you know, twenty years of being in
spaces like this is slow is fast because when you
move quickly, when you go alone, you make mistakes and
then you have to backtrack and start over and rebuild
and take that down because you did it wrong and
learn a new way to do it. And if you

(56:49):
move a little more slowly, and you move in community,
and you really assess and build correctly, you'll get there.
Faster in the end, and you'll get there with everyone
by your side. And that you know that that I
think changes a life. So Jane, what do you what
do you want us to do our our listeners, our groups.

(57:14):
As we get into twenty twenty four, a lot of
people are nervous, a lot of people feel overwhelmed. That's
you know, by design, that's what fascism does. It makes
you tired. What what do you want listeners to know?
What's the one you know site you want people to
visit or the one thing you want people to sign
up for to prep in community for this big fight

(57:35):
we have ahead together this year.

Speaker 2 (57:38):
One thing that you can do is join me on
my climate pack and you do that by texting Jane
to four oh five oh six.

Speaker 1 (57:52):
Okay, I'm going to do it right now.

Speaker 2 (57:55):
What people need to do is join an organization that
has a track record, preferably that has diversity in it.
You don't want to join an organization that's all white men.
I'm sorry, but yeah, they haven't. They haven't proven a
great track record, have they. My favorite ex husband, Ed Turner,
always says, we've had our fants and we've set it up.

Speaker 1 (58:17):
Now turn it over to women exactly. Will Ferrell just
said that recently too. I'm like, see, look they're waking up,
these these men. Leave it to us. We'll do it anyway.

Speaker 2 (58:28):
Join an organization and take action to stop fossil fuels
and to push us in a direction toward alternative energy,
sustainable energy meaning wind and sun. And because this climate
crisis is real and we have to act fast and
we can make a big difference.

Speaker 1 (58:45):
Indeed, and for our friends listening at home, we're going
to make sure to share some links and resources with
you in the show notes and also on our Instagram
stories this week, so we'll make everything easily shareable and
easy to follow. I really want to be respectful of
your time, Jane, even though what I really want to
do is just drive over to your house and sit
on your couch and talk to you for the rest

(59:06):
of the day.

Speaker 2 (59:07):
I would love nothing more.

Speaker 1 (59:09):
Okay, great, I'm going to come over soon, but I
have for this interview.

Speaker 2 (59:13):
I have one.

Speaker 1 (59:14):
Final question for you. It's my favorite thing to ask
everyone who graces me with their time. I'm curious, in
this moment in your life, what feels like your work
in progress?

Speaker 2 (59:26):
Oh, my relationship with my children. HM, that's I'm sure
sounds strange. But one of the things that I've learned
is that it never ends as a parent. It's never
too late. I was not such a good parent when
my children were younger. They are now very much adults.

(59:47):
They both have children, And you know, when you're my age,
you spend a lot of time thinking, when I'm on
my deathbed, what am I going to regret? And then
try to focus on that. And my main thing on
my deathbed is going to be do they know I
love them? And do they love me? And are they okay?

(01:00:10):
And so that's my thing besides the crisis, is trying
to be okay with my kids and my grandkids.

Speaker 1 (01:00:20):
That's beautiful. Do you ever feel like because your life
has had such big callings and you show up for
community and in such a big global way, it maybe
takes a little longer to get into the one on
one and the personal and when you're always getting called

(01:00:40):
and pulled in so many directions, you don't get to
spend a lot of time at home, much like you
talked about with your dad.

Speaker 2 (01:00:46):
And I.

Speaker 1 (01:00:48):
Think it's actually I'm processing what you're saying in real time,
So forgive that my question is becoming more of an observation.
But how beautiful that you also are in a state
where you get to come back inward more.

Speaker 2 (01:01:03):
Yeah. Wow, it's not even so much having the time,
it's when you do have the time, really being present,
you know, as opposed to I got to write that
letter to someone, or I got to go to that meeting,
you know what I mean. And when you're when you're
my you know, my daughter was a tiny little baby

(01:01:25):
when I became an activist, and so you know, it's
not right to feel justified to not be showing up
because what you're doing is good. Bullshit. You've got to
find a way to do both. The chances are if
you do both, things will turn out better, the activism

(01:01:47):
and the child.

Speaker 1 (01:01:49):
That's beautiful. Yeah, there's always the opportunity to recalibrate. Yeah,
all the wisdom I loved you, Please bring it.

Speaker 2 (01:02:01):
I love talking to you. Jane, Thank yourself, Thank you,
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