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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  October 13, 2017 6:00am-6:31am PDT

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good evening from los angeles. i'm tavis smiley. tonight, a conversation with ashley judd. just weeks before she became part of the "the new york times" report about the sexual -- >> one person you won't be just weeks before she became part of the "the new york times" report about the sexual misconduct of harvey weinstein, we sat down with the talented actress to discuss her role in conversation with ashley judd coming up in just a moment. ♪ ♪ ♪
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and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪ so pleased and delighted to have ashley judd back on this program. the talented actress has joined season two of the epix series "berlin station." before our conversation, let's take a look at a clip from the new season. [ speaking foreign language ]
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>> one person you won't be seeing on the news is neo-nazi bad boy otto ganz, whose many ties with right-wing hate groups have had him on the german watch list since the beginning of the refugee crisis. intel suggests that gerhart and ganz are looking to swing the election by violent means to a substantial psd victory. >> so, you guys are obviously filming this on location. >> in berlin. >> in berlin. i was just asked the other day, somebody asked me to list two or three of my favorite cities in the world, and i love berlin. the first time i went, i didn't know what to expect, and i think i was probably caught up in, you know, in an opinion of the city
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that was unfair, given the historical importance of berlin. but i went there for the first time and fell in love with it. is it a fun place to film? >> the show is fantastic. >> yeah, yeah. >> which is for me what makes filming in berlin fantastic. it is an interesting city, and a lot of people i find share your experience. they find it to be one of the most exciting and interesting cities in the world. universally acclaimed at the moment. >> yeah, yeah, yeah. talking about the series and about your character. >> bb yates. >> yeah. >> i love this character. she, i think, is a woman that we need right now. i was reminded earlier today that although women are 51% of the population, we only comprise 21% of senators, 19% of women in the house, and only 12% of governorships. and bb is a terrific leader and just plowing through the boys club. so, i love her and i love being
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a part of this show, and i think audiences will continue to discover the series and find bb in particular a very gratifying character. >> your analysis of the role that women play in society is spot on, which leads me to ask whether or not those kinds of considerations enter your mind when you are trying to figure out what role to play at this point in your life. >> for "berlin station," it absolutely did. given the continued global gender inequality -- and i feel every now and then i have to take media fastest, not just because i happen to be a part of what we're calling the resistance, but because of the sort of ongoing, daily influx of gender violence. bb is so refreshing. i play the boss of the cia in germany, one of america's great
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global allies and a central foothold of security throughout the whole of europe. and to have a woman have that job is fantastic. and then i have a very adversarial relationship with the u.s. ambassador, who's a political appointee and not necessarily someone from diplomacy in state. and to just slug it out unflinchingly is great. and the folks at paramount and epix, when they decided to offer me bb, they didn't necessarily think about my acting first and foremost, which thank god they loved. paramount's been a home for me for a really long time, "kiss the girl," "double jeopardy." they watched my ted talk, and they said, of course ashley, of course ashley is our bb. >> what did they see in the ted talk that convinced them of that? and for those who haven't seen the ted talk, it was about -- >> online gender violence. you know, i think that they just
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saw a -- i think i used the word a moment ago, an unflinching general bad-asserring, an unwillingness to back away from what is clearly right, which is the full equality of girls and women and boys and men, and that we're just full participants throughout all aspects of the political and social and cultural, intellectual life of the world. >> i listen to you talk about this role in bb that you play. it occurs to me that we have never had a woman run the cia. this year we've had, obviously, all kinds of drama with the guy who used to run the cia, and for that matter, drama with sessions, you know, earlier this year as a.g. how different do you think the agency might be, the way we see the cia might be, the way the world might be different, if there were a woman running our
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spy agency, a woman running the cia? >> well, i think it speaks to leadership styles and how gender may or may not come into play with leadership styles. i mean, we know, for example, in for-profit businesses that when women serve at higher levels in the executive, and certainly on boards, those businesses are more profitable. we know that women tend to have a leadership style that is very empowering and have the sort of classic tend and befriend approach. and i would -- you know, nothing leads me to believe that at an organization -- because it is fundamentally an organization, like the cia -- that that would be any different. >> but they do ugly, nasty, vicious stuff. >> oh, absolutely, yeah. and it's -- you know, life is ironic, of course, at all times, and it was my learning so much about the american involvement in cia's very dirty activities
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in the congo and in south america and, you know, squashing people's movements in central america in the name of fighting communism that radicalized me and made me the political animal that i am today. so, it's definitely interesting that as an actor i would be playing a cia agent. >> i wonder whether or not -- >> and by the way, i just want to add, i think that it takes a kind of an emotional sophistication and a willingness to have a spiritual approach to things to be able to hold those tensions. and i am not saying that i'm any kind of a spiritual giant. i just don't have that binary either/or, like i've hated the things that the cia has done in the past, i can't play someone in the cia. and i think that us having these sort of zero sum game theories about everything is sort of what's wrong with our political
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life and so much of what troubles us in america as general. >> i take your point, but you're a thespian, so to my mind, at least, you're allowed to play any character that you decide to play that works for you, so i'm okay with that part. i guess i'm still toying with, still noodling with this notion of whether or not our patriarchy, our sexism, would even allow us to consider a woman running the cia, and i wonder whether or not that if it were something that were even on the docket, whether or not that would mirror the kind of conversation america had when we started thinking about allowing women in the military, and certainly, women to fight in the military. i'm just wondering where that conversation would go if there were some woman about to be nominated to run the cia. >> you make such good points, and i actually am really delighted. speaking engagements have become a really fabulous part of my business. it's something i love doing. and i've been asked to speak on the topic of defending our
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defenders, so women in the military who experience unbridled sexual assault from their brothers in arms. and here we are so quick to sort of run around the planet to try to defend girls and women from tyranny in other places. yet, our girls and women experience egregious gender violence within our own military. and i've seen brain imaging of female soldiers when they come back, and you know, it's shattered like glass. it goes -- you know, it's ptsd in the extreme. but i think that that is part of the role, part of the function and the delivery system of television and movies is we can bring the imagination to the greater public and say, look, you have got not just bb yates running the cia in germany, but an amazing actor in michelle forbes playing a very gifted
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senior spy, keke palmer has joined the cast, and she plays a super keen, very eager, wet behind the ears agent who wants to get in there and mix things up. and then there's a woman, a beautiful, very gifted german actress, who is playing the head of the german intelligence. and you get all of us in the room, and you can imagine a world, hopefully not in the too distant future, where women are running, helping to run the cia. >> i get the sense, and my opinion about this really isn't important. i'm really trying get to your point of view on this. but i get the sense that there's something happening in the world, something happening specifically with women. i suspect the election of donald trump had something to do with this, certainly in our country. but i get the sense that there is something that's -- how might i put this? this is a -- it feels like a
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chyros moment for women in the world, certainly in this country, around the issue of empowerment. and i see it playing out in a lot of ways, to bring it back devour particular interest, in these films. you can't convince me that the films that are doing blockbuster numbers are not doing those numbers in part because women are having their say, even at the box office, when they watch series like this, when they go see "wonder woman" or they see, you know, "girls trip," or it can be serious, it can be funny, it can be anything. but i just see that women are having their say in a lot of ways, and i think in some ways, it's a pushback on the maltreatment that they continue to receive in this country and around the world. does that make sense to you at all? >> my silence is whole hearted agreement. >> it is fascinating to me the ways which they speak up and express themselves. if you put the right project out
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with a woman like you, with bb at the helm, and women get a chance to discover that, they'll watch it, they'll support it, because i think it speaks to their own interests. >> when you were talking about the broader movement -- and i love the word kyros, so thank you for using that -- it does have to boil down to my individual empowerment and how i define empowerment, how i both internalize it, which allows me to express it externally. and i think that strong female-to-female alliances are really a part of that. and when i met the great nina donovan, 19 years old, from rural middle tennessee, and watched her perform her piece "nasty woman" at a spoken word event in nashville, that's an example of female-to-female alliances. i went up to her afterwards. i actually slipped out for a cup of coffee. i went to the staff room at the blair school of music on vanderbilt's campus to scrounge
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around for a cup of coffee, and i just happened to bump into the executive director of the organization. and i said, look, is it possible for me to meet some of the poets afterwards? and he didn't actually say yes, because he's very protective of the kids. they often come from really vulnerable backgrounds, and he's just naturally very protective. but he said, you know, yes, i think that i can organize for you to meet a couple of them. and nina was one of them. and i said to her, i haven't been invited to the women's march yet, but i'm going to be doing your piece there. if the world were more fair, you would be doing it, but that's just the way this one's going to roll out. and it's her language, it's her soul, and i was the one who got to be the delivery system for that. and you know, i've had people come up to me and say, changed my life. >> i thought to ask you that. >> changed my life. >> i watched you live on c-span at.t day when you delivered what kind of response have you received from that piece, from reading that piece? >> well, i have obviously received the kinds of responses that we might expect. you mentioned the kyros moment.
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and one indication that girls and women and boys and men are inching or catapulting towards equality is that those who don't want that are really loud and very noisy. and so, there were the rape threats. there were the death threats. >> to you. >> well, that's normal. i'm sure i've gotten some today. >> how do you process that? i don't want to throw you off. i want you to finish your point. finish your point, we'll come back and ask. finish your point, go ahead. i want to get back to it. >> and then there was an equal and louder and much more glorious, you know, nina said what i was thinking, nina said what i was feeling. and you know, i remember a very, specifically in particular being in the airport in oakland, you know, waiting for my flight at the gate at southwest, and this young woman came up to me and
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she just said, "changed my life." and i'd like to point out that it's interesting that the part of nina's piece that most people find offensive are the parts that are the direct quotes spoken by mr. trump. >> mm-hmm. >> it's confusing. that's confusing. and how i process the other thing is i have mentors, i have a spiritual practice, and i know it's not personal. it's about girls and women in general, and that's why i'm going to remain unflinching. >> and yet, i love the bold face that you have here around this. but you're human. as gorgeous as you are, you are not human and divine, you're just human. >> of course. >> and because you're just human, we feel these things. >> of course. >> and we feel these things viscerally. i remember i didn't know where you were in the world, and because we had a chance to get to know each other a bit on this show over the years, i remember saying a prayer for you when the
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story was blowing about of whether or not ashley judd might run for a senate seat from the state of kentucky. and when that story first surfaced, i remember just reading, to your point, some just visceral comments. [ laughter ] just about the idea. >> yeah. >> the notion of you running for a senate seat from kentucky, and it was just ugly and -- >> yeah. >> -- nasty and vicious and all those ugly words. and i said a prayer for you just because i didn't know where you were, how you were taking that, how you were processing that. but now to hear you say that on top of just nasty comments there are at times death threats, et cetera, et cetera. as an artist, you're not supposed to be subjected to that kind of stuff. >> i am so surprised that you don't know that that happens routinely, which is, i suppose, another reason why it's so important for girls and women to have these forums in which to talk about just the daily reality of being female in the world in which we live. >> no, it's not that i don't know that it happens to women. i'm talking about ashley judd.
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>> right. >> that that stuff happens to you. >> yes. >> that's what i'm getting at. >> okay. so, i appreciate the, you know, invitation to personalize it a little bit more. it is one of the reasons why i go on media fastest. >> right. >> and it's also the reason why i did the ted talk, because threats of violence are experienced in our neuro anatomy the same as experiencing the violence in person, the emotional and the physical abuse has the same cellular response as the threat of the abuse, and i have all the scientific data in my ted talk to back that up, because you know, there are people who watch ted talks and pick apart the science, and so they were super rigorous with me about it, as i fancy myself as an erstwhile scholar, so i would want to be careful about that myself. and there was recently another study that came out that proves that. so, i, you know, i grew up with different kinds of violence, and
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it continues to be normal. that's not saying it's right, and it's just something -- it is something through which i have to persevere. >> is there anything that you can tell me that will make me a bit more hopeful? so, let me try it this way. can you tell me that as you give these talks that you're seeing more males in your audience? >> mm-hmm. >> can you tell me that you're getting the kind of response from males that makes you feel better about the talks and about what you're trying to get across? can you give me any hope at all on that? >> of course i can. and i read something earlier today that i really liked. it was a guy who said part of being a real man is not being told that i have to act like a real man in order to be a real
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man. and i think that there is a surging conversation about the toxic definitions of masculinity that are so constraining and limiting. and there is a new focus on, for example, in the purchasing of sex on men who buy sex. and if there aren't buyers and johns, then there will be fewer girls and women who get lured into or stay trapped in prostitution. so that's called demand abolition. and you know, i see all of these little movements. does that help? >> it does help. i wanted some hope. so thank you for that. >> and also men who want to raise their daughters -- >> sure, sure. >> -- in a world that is more fair. and i know it sounds like i read a lot, which maybe i do. "the new york times" had that story recently about the report on -- which is very interesting to read in full -- the way men talk to their daughters and how
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it differs from the way that they talk to their sons. and i thought, okay, this is going to be same old same old, the way dads talk to their daughters, oh, honey, are you really going to wear that? and it was actually about how we might call abusive, because it's less than nurturing, and it's limiting the experience of themselves and how they can express themselves, how they talk to their sons. >> so, james brown said we can hit it and quit it. this is just a quick hit it and quit it thing, because i think i know the response, but i'm curious, though. since you referenced donald trump earlier in this conversation, let me come back to that. so that when you see donald trump say the kinds of things that he has said to the wife of the french president and et cetera -- i mean, there's a long list of these things. so, he's president now. he's not running for office, as if he was going to change. nobody believed that anyway. but how do you process the leader of our country making these kinds of statements to and about women, reporters in the oval office, the wives of state leaders?
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how do you process that? >> how do i process it? ha! >> given the work that you do, when the leader of the free world is saying these kinds of comments consistently, what do you do with it? >> you know, all i can say is that i just, i feel it all over me. it's more of that. it's just, you know, to use a highly clinical world, it's just gross. it's just -- [ laughter ] it's gross. >> yeah. >> and it's deeply unfortunate. >> yeah. >> i mean, in no way, shape or form is this right for him to do or any other person to do, and it's incredibly disappointing and why there is a resistance, and there's an organization called she should run, and they recently published some stuff about how, you know, all women
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who prepare to run for office or who do run experience the kinds of stuff that you said you read about me when i was thinking about running. and you know, the president of the united states making that -- and it was -- it's just obviously who he is. like, he didn't even have a hesitation before he made that remark to the first lady of france. eh. eh. >> i'm going to ask whether or not the door is closed, not knowing whether or not the door was truly opened. but is the door closed to running, to considering running for office? >> well, yes, the door was truly open. >> okay. >> and i was very thankful for all the folks who were already working with me and who believed in me and all the encouragement i got. and still when people come up to me and ask me to run, i say,
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thank you. if i choose to do that some day, will you please come work for me. i don't know that i will. i really have an honest answer, which is for god to know and me to find out. i mean, my deepest desire is to be useful. and as you know, i get to be the global goodwill ambassador for unfpa, the united nations population fund. >> absolutely. >> i got to give that ted talk about online misogyny. i, you know, have all kinds of opportunities, including being on your show, which is an enormously popular show which people value and causes them to be reflective and to think. so, maybe i will and maybe i won't. i do think that part of what is positive and part of the legacy for which donald trump will pay is that more women are getting involved in politics, and that's hugely important. we've got to have gender parity, you know, whether it's on the school board or at, you know, how i wish there were a woman at
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the department of the interior right now, you know? >> yeah. well, amongst a long sigh, there are other things you're blessed to do. you are blessed to play bb. >> yes, i am blessed to play bb yates. >> on a series that we are very excited about. so, thank you for coming out. >> thank you. >> whenever you come out, i'm always inspired and empowered and educated when you show up. so thank you. >> it's a treat. thanks for having me. >> that's our show for tonight. thanks for watching, and as always, keep the faith. ♪ for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at >> hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with former tennis pro james blake about his book about activist athletes called "waves of grace." that's next time. we'll see you then. ♪
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and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. be more, pbs.
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good evening from los angeles. i'm tavis smiley. tonight, a conversation with chadrick bozeman, the actor best known for portrayals of baseball legend jackie robinson and the dfather of soul, james brown, out with a new project, "marshall," portraying thurgood marshall long before he sat on the u.s. supreme court or claimed victory in brown v. board of education. the film explores one of marshall's greatest challenges in his early days as an attorney for the naacp. we're glad you've joined us, a conversation with chadwick boseman, coming up right now. ♪


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