Katherin Heigl has opened up about the backlash she received after she spoke out about harsh working conditions in the film industry — and she’s standing behind her views.
The Grey’s Anatomy star first made the comments back in 2009, when she discussed the show’s alleged working conditions during an appearance on David Letterman’s late-night show.
“Our first day back was Wednesday. It was — I’m going to keep saying this because I hope it embarrasses them — a 17-hour day, which I think is cruel and mean,” Heigl told Letterman at the time.
She then left the show in 2010, in a series of messy moves that had her labelled “a difficult star”. She spoke out about the harsh conditions she experienced working for Grey’s on numerous occasions, yet there was little public sympathy for her at the time.
Now the star has seemingly reclaimed her comments, in a detailed passage posted to Instagram.
“Some of you may remember over ten years ago I was very vocal about the absurdity of the working hours crews and actors were being forced into by production,” Heigl wrote.
“Even Diane Sawyer interviewed me and not so kindly informed me ‘no one feels sorry for you’. I very publicly and for many, many years after, got my ass kicked for speaking up.”
Heigl shared that the experience “shut her down” and severely impacted her wellbeing.
“I took a very big step back from the hustle of my career and retreated into the woods of Utah. I spent a fair amount of time struggling with self-confidence and self-worth.
“I let myself be convinced that I was wrong. Very very wrong. That speaking out made me seem ungrateful or precious or as if I were ‘biting the hand that fed me’.”
The actress said that in time, she’s learned to move past the scrutiny, and her passion hasn’t been curbed.
“As I approach my 43rd year on this planet that nasty insecure voice in me has started to go from a roar to a whisper. With age, one hopes, comes wisdom and for me, that wisdom is knowing not only who you really are but what you will and will not stand for no matter what,” she wrote.
“So I speak up today and say with zero hesitation or regret…14, 16, 17, 18-hour workdays are NOT safe. They are NOT healthy. They can not and should NO longer be tolerated.”
The actress emphasised that her post wasn’t about her, but about “the crew”.
“We are making entertainment. We are not solving world hunger or curing cancer. We are telling stories.”
“When production ploughs into hour 14 and beyond, they are asking our crews to drive themselves home bone tired.
“The number of people who have fallen asleep at the wheel is staggering. The number of accidents that happen on set due to exhaustion is shocking. Illness both mental and physical is off the charts,” the star added.
There is nothing glamorous or sexy about working past the point of exhaustion. There is nothing, NOTHING that warrants pushing yourself into an early grave.
Heigl acknowledged that now, she has the luxury to reject a work offer if their demands are “too much” — something many crew workers can’t afford to do.
“It is time for reasonable and fair work conditions, wages and hours to be more than just a priority they need to be the norm. Period. To all the crews on all the sets all over this great big world of ours. I support you. I stand with you. I thank you. Not one show. Not one movie. Can exist without you,” she ended.
The unexpected post comes after the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), began demanding better conditions for more than 60,000 behind-the-scenes workers in theatre, television and film productions.
The first image in the gallery of pictures posted by Heigl features the alliance’s emblem; the actress stated that she “stands with” their cause. She also gave some insight into just how close-knit film crews tend to be, sharing some memories from her 31-year career.
“I’ve celebrated life’s big and small milestones with my crews,” Heigl explained. “First real love. Marriage. Babies. Turning 21. Turning 30. Turning 40.
“The crews I’ve worked with all these many many years have been just as instrumental in making me who I am as anything else lasting and important in my life. They have been family in that way and I have always and will always continue to support and stand by them.”
In the gallery of images, Heigl shared some sweet photos of her as a youngster on-set, as well as some more recent snaps and memories of her with cast and crew members.
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