“There’s this narrative,” said America Ferrera, “about young women not being inspired by Hillary. And that’s just not the case.”
About 500 supporters showed up for the event, which was held at Neuehouse, a newly opened, invite-only workspace for creative types. It marks one of the first campaign stops ahead of California's June 7 primary, since candidates mostly just come to the state to raise money. The vibe, at first, seemed pretty casual: Security was light, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry songs played, babies and dogs crawled on the concrete floor.
But as soon as Ferrera, Dunham and the former First Daughter took the stage, the mood became a bit more serious. Ferrera, dressed in a crisp white blazer, took out a few sheets of paper and began reading prepared remarks. She described herself as a first-generation American, one of six children raised by a single mother raised in Los Angeles.
“I am a female, millennial voter,” she explained. “And I’m not only voting for Hillary, but I really like Hillary.”
The actress, who currently stars on NBC’s sitcom “Superstore,” peppered her speech with lots of millennial-speak: She said Hillary Clinton is the type of woman she’d like to “share a bottle of wine with.” Someone she wants to “Netflix and chill” with. Someone who she imagines could be her BFF. Someone she “really, really hearts.”
Despite her casual lingo, Ferrera made sure to highlight the political reasons for her support. She said she admired the way Clinton fought for early childhood education, how she continued to push for healthcare reform after her initial attempt failed in 1994 and argued on behalf of women’s rights “before girl power was a hashtag.” These are all themes the candidate discusses on the campaign trail.
“I think it’s pretty awesome that Hillary Clinton is a woman,” said Ferrera, 31. “However, if you could show me a purple-faced, three-eyed monster martian [who had Clinton’s beliefs]… then I would be out there campaigning for that martian.” Ferrera also campaigned for Clinton in 2008.
Dunham, meanwhile, chose to speak “from a slightly more organic place,” nothing that she’d already delivered one too many prepared speeches while campaigning on the road with Clinton in January.
She brought up her Instagram page, noting how aggressive the comments were any time she posted something about her support for Clinton. One person, who “obviously had no avatar,” wrote that Sen. Bernie Sanders had done more for feminism than Clinton ever has — a comment that Dunham said caused her to lose her “freaking mind.”
“The idea that you’re gonna tell me that the woman who stepped into the White House when I was 6 years old and made me think it was possible to live the life I wanted and say the things I believed has somehow not done enough for women is so offensive to the core of my being,” said the “Girls” creator. “I’m going to stop talking now because I’m going to turn into a shaking ogre woman.”
Indeed, Dunham was the most passionate on stage, getting particularly fired up over criticism that she was voting for Clinton simply because of her gender.
“I’m kind of done with being polite about this,” acknowledged the 29-year-old, who was clad in knee-high socks that said “Hillary” and a pair of chunky platform heels. “If people want to ask questions about why we’re with her, we want to answer those. But we also want to make it clear that this has never been an issue of ‘I’m going to vote for the candidate who I think can beat the bad guy.’ I’m going to vote for the candidate I’ve been dreaming of stepping on that stage for my entire life.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Chelsea Clinton was a bit more demure. Though she noted that she has come to respect her mother’s views even more since she became one herself, she stuck to talking points highlighting Clinton's accomplishments. She emphasized the importance of the Supreme Court and how she doesn’t believe we live in a single-issue country. And when the discussion opened up for audience questions, she fielded the majority of the answers about college sexual assault, campaign finance reform and gun violence.
“I know people don’t care about the unsexy, or don’t care about the details and find them kind of confusing or frustrating, but I think how something happens is really important,” said Clinton, who is expecting her second child this summer. “We do persuade people with facts — with the unsexy — and also our own stories of why we’re supporting my mom.”
While Clinton stuck to the facts, the two actresses frequently jumped into the question-and-answer session to share personal anecdotes. Dunham, for one, said she was a survivor of campus sexual assault, while Ferrera shared that she relied on free public school lunch because her mother could not afford to provide it herself.
Both Ferrera and Dunham are among a handful of young female celebrities supporting Hillary Clinton, along with Amy Schumer, Katy Perry, Chloe Moretz and some of the Kardashian sisters. Sanders also has some female stars stumping for him, including Shailene Woodley, Emily Ratajkowski and Gabby Hoffman.
But Dunham in particular has thrown her weight behind Clinton, publishing an interview with the candidate in her newsletter, Lenny, and traveling to four different states to talk to voters before the primaries.
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