From the Red Carpet to the Ballot Box: Actresses Running for Office
Male actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronald Reagan made the transition from Hollywood to elected office, but why haven't any female actors made the switch from Hollywood to the halls of Congress? This trend may be changing: in the past year, several big and small screen female stars have stepped into the political arena.
Roseanne Barr, of the self-titled 1990s TV show, ran as a presidential candidate for both the Peace and Freedom Party and the Green Party. In an interview with the Las Vegas Review Journal, she said that she planned to run for president forever. While Barr's campaigns were fairly low-profile and low-budget, there are other rising Democratic starlets such as Ashley Judd, Eva Longoria and Fran Drescher who we may see on the ballot in the future.
In a recent Mother Jones article, Tim Murphy predicted that Ashley Judd will indeed run for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's, (R-KY), seat in 2014, citing her comments at an event thrown by pro-woman PAC Emily's List as evidence. In a conversation with Murphy, he thought Judd would be a serious candidate, saying she is not just a recognizable name, she has an M.B.A. from Harvard and a proven interest in public policy to back up any potential run. He pointed out that the war on women narrative the conservative right created for itself helped high-profile organizations like Emily's List and Planned Parenthood recruit big-name stars to speak out for women's rights and fundraise for the organization. "A much larger pool of women are running for office in general," Murphy said, "which leads to women of all professional backgrounds to be represented in politics."
Fran Drescher and Eva Longoria both contributed to the 2012 Democratic National Convention, and Longoria had a seat of honor at the inauguration as well. On Julie Klausner's podcast "How Was Your Week?" Drescher mentioned her interest in running for a position in New York in the future. While Longoria said last year in The Hollywood Reporter that she does not plan to run for office, she co-chaired President Obama's reelection campaign and has a long demonstrated interested in politics and activism.
The intersection of pop culture and politics is not uncharted, but the increasing number of women exploring this space is exciting. As famous women show their devotion to public service and public policy, there well be more and more role models for younger, creative and progressive minded women to step up.
Emma Weinstein Levey is a reporter at Campus Progress.Follow her on Twitter @ebwlevey.
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