Sharon Stone kicked off The Hollywood Reporter’s Raising Our Voices luncheon gala Wednesday with an impassioned talk about her health journey and the challenges she faced as a result of standing up for herself.
Stone opened the second annual event held at Audrey Irmas Pavilion and GenSpace in Los Angeles where industry leaders spoke about the state and future of diversity, equality, inclusion and accessibility in Hollywood. During her time on stage, Stone discussed the impact of the stroke and cerebral hemorrhage she suffered in 2001, for which she said she was given a 1 percent chance of survival and recalled her struggles to get work after she recovered.
“I recovered for seven years and I haven’t had a job since,” Stone said. “When it first happened I didn’t want to tell anyone because you know if something goes wrong with you, you’re out. Something went wrong with me – I’ve been out for 20 years. I haven’t had any jobs. I was a very big movie star at one point in my life.
The artist, who was nominated for an Oscar in 1995 for her work Casino, pondered instances throughout her career where she had to be her own lawyer. “I’ve broken a lot of glass ceilings on top of my head,” Stone continued. “I want to tell you it hurt. It hurt to get paid. It hurt to fight the studio heads. It hurt to set boundaries – boundaries about who could come into my caravan and what they could ask for; boundaries about not wanting to sign my contract in my makeup trailer the day I started a show. It hurt to say that like any business, I had the option to have my attorney read my contract and not have to start the show by signing my unread contract in the makeup trailer.
Stone recalled that standing up for herself “caused me a lot of trouble in the company” and sometimes kept her from getting hired. She then went on to describe the work she has done over the years for the World Health Organization and the United Nations to help underrepresented voices be heard. The star also stressed that people with different perspectives should claim a position in this industry.
“It is important to me that your diversity is not wiped out by this anti-woke bullshit idea in our country,” she said. “This democratic experiment means a lot. It means a lot. Pushing a controlled government society to extremes – whatever you want to call it, whatever people want to call it – is also an experiment. It doesn’t mean it’s happening. It means it’s an experiment to see if you’re going to eat it. Do you eat controlled government? Are you eating a controlled studio system? What will you eat – or will you get up and be counted?
Other highlights of THR’At the Raising Our Voices event, Taika Waititi delivered the keynote address and honored Eva Longoria and Niecy Nash-Betts. There were panel discussions on topics such as “The State of Inclusion in Storytelling” and “Inside Hollywood’s Shifting Power Structures.”
The luncheon, sponsored by the Golden Globes, GenSpace and East West Bank, was equipped with ADA-compliant ramps and access points, just like last year’s event. In addition, there were two ASL interpreters during the stage program plus accessibility volunteers on site.
Learn more about THR’s Raising Our Voices coverage.