Academy-award winning actress Jane Fonda was on hand at the Coolidge Corner Theater last night to receive the Coolidge Award. Fonda’s career in film, television and social activism spans five decades.
During a Q&A following the screening of her new film Youth, an audience member thanked her for her activism against the Vietnam War, followed by a raucous of clapping from the rest of the audience.
“Only in Boston,” Fonda sarcastically remarked afterwards, giving nod to the region’s known liberal politics. She recently reconsidered her controversial stance on the Vietnam War, more than 40 years after she voiced her opposition to American involvement, and has since been labeled “Hanoi Jane” by her critics.
She still continues to take positions on controversial issues. She said that more needs to be done to address racial and gender diversity in Hollywood. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was recently criticized for not nominating any black actors for Oscars this year.
Fonda stated that the industry is mostly dominated by white men, and they tend to vote for “what’s familiar.” She concluded that more people of color and women should become members of the Academy, and that the current white members need to be more open to diverse storytelling.
“Inequality runs very deep,” Fonda said. “We need to shame the studios. Shame us into voting for more diversity.”
Fonda also took time to say that she is endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, although she supports what Bernie Sanders represents.
“I think she will be a better president because of Bernie,” Fonda said.
As for her own acting career, the 78-year-old said she has grown into her craft, as she said she originally didn’t want to be a actress. She said she didn’t enjoy acting until after doing films she felt were relevant to her, like Nine to Five and The China Syndrome. Now in her later years and after receiving many accolades for her body of work, Fonda said it is still important to improve her craft.
“I have an acting coach,” she said. “It is easy to rest on your laurels, but it is no fun. The fun is learning right up to the end.
Fonda continues to be in demand, as she is currently starring in the Netflix show Grace and Frankie, and is about to film two new movies, including a film adaptation of the book Our Souls at Night, co-starring Robert Redford.
As is the message in Youth, according to Fonda, age is just a number that doesn’t necessarily reflect one’s feelings.
“I was so old when I was thirty,” she said. “I know people who are 104 and are so youthful. It has to do with attitude and spirit… It’s really about redefining age.”