Stacey Abrams may have lost the governor’s race in Georgia, but the effects are being felt all over the country. On the opposite coast, Hollywood stars are calling for a film boycott in the state over the election results, but Abrams has made it clear that’s not something she wants. (Instead, she said she’ll file a federal lawsuit over the “gross mismanagement of Georgia’s election system.”)
After Abrams — who was backed by many celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey — acknowledged on Friday that her Republican opponent Brian Kemp would be declared the state’s next governor, some stars threatened to no longer work there due to the claims of corruption. Alyssa Milano, Sons of Anarchy’s Ron Perlman and The West Wing’s Bradley Whitford were among them.
There are over 20 productions shooting in Georgia.
Is the entertainment industry willing to support the economy of a totally corrupt state that suppresses democracy; where the winner isn’t the best choice for the people but the best schemer or crook?
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) November 17, 2018
To all my friends who are studio and network executives, if you choose to shoot movies and tv in Georgia, don’t bother to call me. https://t.co/gtIKNJBhNF
— Ron Perlman (@perlmutations) November 17, 2018
— Bradley Whitford (@WhitfordBradley) November 17, 2018
Brian Kemp is a corrupt, homophobic, unapologetic disenfranchiser of African American voters. If he seizes power, Hollywood needs to use it’s leverage and pull out of Georgia. Studios need to put their money where their mouth is and stand up to hate. #boycottgeorgia
— Bradley Whitford (@WhitfordBradley) November 8, 2018
— Betsy Sullenger (@betsysullenger) November 16, 2018
If Kemp wins in Georgia, Hollywood should put its money where its mouth is and pull all production out of the state. https://t.co/BKiShMiXTY
— Frank Rich (@frankrichny) November 7, 2018
However, soon after #boycottgeorgia started trending over the weekend, so did #WeAreGeorgia, where those who would be affected spoke out against it. For instance:
Since 2016, I’ve been a full time actor. No other job and comfortable financially. This isn’t me bragging – this is me sharing my story and love for GA. I am surrounded by loving, open-minded, kind, talented, thriving artists – both at work and in my neighborhood. #WeAreGeorgia
— Jessica Miesel (@jessica_miesel) November 19, 2018
— Jessica Miesel (@jessica_miesel) November 19, 2018
#WeAreGeorgia I’m a mom of a 2 and 3 year old and am married to @ericmendenhall. We’re a two-actor-income household. We truly love our life in Atlanta. We have a garden and six chickens. I tutor a Syrian refugee woman who has become a friend. Our children love each other. 1/
— Bethany Anne Lind (@LindBethanyAnne) November 19, 2018
Many others in the entertainment industry also spoke out about how it would directly hurt them.
When you say #boycottgeorgia, you boycott me paying rent. You boycott raising kids, paying for braces, and trying to make a living.
All the artists I know in Georgia are mad as hell.
But you saying “boycott Georgia” primarily hurts people who already agree with you.
— Jacob York (@jkobbster) November 18, 2018
For the record, Abrams has forcefully stated that she doesn’t support a boycott and has been pretty clear about that. “The hard-working Georgians who serve on crews & make a living here are not to blame,” she wrote on Twitter. “I promise: We will fight — and we will win.”
I appreciate the calls to action, but I ask all of our entertainment industry friends to support #FairFightGA – but please do not #boycottgeorgia. The hard-working Georgians who serve on crews & make a living here are not to blame. I promise: We will fight – and we will win.
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) November 18, 2018
That got some to change their minds, including Veep producer Frank Rich.
Thank you @staceyabrams for inspiring me and countless other Americans. I’m all for #FairFightGA. The entertainment industry must now focus on using its considerable economic leverage any way it can to push back against the suppression of voting rights in Georgia. https://t.co/oxuBZmeUz0
— Frank Rich (@frankrichny) November 18, 2018
While Milano didn’t walk back her boycott threat, she did silence a critic asking if she’s even in the entertainment business anymore. Her response was approved by her peers.
Hi, Leo. I’m in a Netflix show right now which was just picked up for season two, I run a multimillion dollar clothing line, just finished a movie and Project Runway All Stars (the show I host) starts airing in January. #Insatiable #TemptingFate #TeamTouch #PRAllStars https://t.co/amlTN2l19S
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) November 18, 2018
Abrams, who received the endorsement of Barack Obama, accused her opponent of voter suppression during their battle. However, she trailed him by about 54,000 votes (out of 3.9 million total) and acknowledged Friday in her fiery speech that the former secretary of state would be certified as Georgia governor. “Georgia citizens tried to exercise their constitutional rights and were still denied the ability to elect their leaders,” she told the crowd. Under the watch of the now former secretary of state, democracy failed Georgians of every political party, every race, every region.”
Stacey Abrams: "To watch an elected official who claims to represent the people in this state baldly pin his hopes for election on the suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling. So let’s be clear: This is not a speech of concession." (via ABC) pic.twitter.com/n4jyBXIFTG
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 16, 2018
On two different interviews on Sunday, Abrams spoke out about the election — and refused to call Kemp the “legitimate” winner, allowing he’s the “legal” one.
“He is the legal governor of Georgia,” Abrams said to CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I want to be very clear. Words have meaning. And I have spent my lifetime not only as an attorney but as a writer. And I’m very careful with the words I choose. And, yes, when he takes the oath of office, he will be the legal governor of the state of Georgia. He is the legal victor. But what you are looking for me to say is that there was no compromise of our democracy and that there should be some political compromise in the language I use. And that’s not right. What’s not right is saying that something was done properly, when it was not. I will never deny … the legal imprimatur that says that he is in this position. And I pray for his success. But will I say that this election was not tainted, was not a disinvestment and a disenfranchisement of thousands of voters? I will not say that.”
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