America Ferrera wants to keep the activist momentum going in the United States.
And with her new organization, Harness, the actress is hoping to turn many citizens’ interest in various social justice issues into action. The group hosted an #ActivismIRL event with Cosmopolitan.com and Twitter on Thursday in an attempt to turn hashtag activism into real change.
At the event, the star moderated a panel with Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors; Sophie Sarah Flicker, the national organizer for the Women’s March; and Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, the executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.
Before the panel, Ferrera sat down with Amy Odell, the editor of Cosmopolitan.com, for a fireside chat. During their conversation, Ferrera described Harness’ mission and why she decided to launch the organization in February alongside her husband Ryan Piers Williams and actor Wilmer Valderrama.
“We do realize that this is a moment in our history of heightened awareness, heightened engagement and we want to harness that energy, that opportunity that’s arising right now to give people a sustainable way to engage in these issues,” Ferrera said during the event held at Twitter’s New York City headquarters and live-streamed via Periscope. “We want to shift culture beyond the administration that is currently in the White House. And really we want to shift culture beyond any given president, because it’s not enough to have the power as the people [every] four years and then go back to sleep. We have to change what in our culture has led us to this moment.”
"It’s not enough to have the power as the people [every] four years and then go back to sleep. We have to change what in our culture has led us to this moment." America Ferrera
Ferrera said the organization is meant to connect individuals to activists who are working “on the front lines doing the work day in and day out” and to those who are victims of certain issues.
“They’re going to have the best answers on how we can show up to support them,” she said. “This isn’t about us sweeping in and being the heroes. Our most vulnerable communities have been facing the issues that are all of a sudden front page news for decades and generations. They know better than any of us what they need. We need to show up and listen.”
During the chat, Odell also asked the actress if she had ever considered running for office. Ferrera said that she’s asked that question nearly every day.
“I guess if you are engaged and you care and you go out there and you speak on behalf of people there’s a natural tendency to imagine that person in politics,” she said. “For me I think leadership comes in all forms and we need leaders beyond government. We need leaders beyond the White House. We need cultural leaders, we need social leaders, we need leaders in business, tech, fashion. So for me I’m most interested in being a leader in my space, my circles, my community right now. Who knows what’s ahead?”
“I mean it’s an easy slogan, right?,” Ferrera quipped.
America for America 2020? Maybe.