Emma Thompson, ThirdLove, Olivia Moultrie: Broadsheet February 27
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Female founders rake in the funding, a soccer star goes pro at 13, and Emma Thompson shows us what taking a stand looks like. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
• Taking a #MeToo stand. When British actress Emma Thompson exited the upcoming animated film Luck earlier this month, it was rumored to be because production company Skydance had hired John Lasseter as head of animation. In a searing letter to Skydance, published by the L.A. Times on Tuesday, Thompson put the speculation to rest:
“It feels very odd to me,” she wrote, “that you and your company would consider hiring someone with Mr. Lasseter’s pattern of misconduct given the present climate in which people with the kind of power that you have can reasonably be expected to step up to the plate.”
Recall that Lasseter left Pixar in 2018 after allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior. His misconduct was so entrenched at Pixar that women working there reportedly developed a technique dubbed "the Lasseter" to prevent him from groping their legs. Lasseter ultimately admitted to inappropriate hugging and “other missteps.”
Nevertheless, Skydance hired Lasseter earlier this year, with CEO David Ellison assuring employees that Lasseter had “learned valuable lessons” and would henceforth “comport himself in a wholly professional manner.”
Thompson, for her part, is having none of that.
In her letter, she picked apart Ellison’s rationale with five biting bullet points.
One of them: “If a man has been touching women inappropriately for decades, why would a woman want to work for him if the only reason he’s not touching them inappropriately now is that it says in his contract that he must behave ‘professionally’?”
And another: ”If John Lasseter started his own company, then every employee would have been given the opportunity to choose whether or not to give him a second chance. But any Skydance employees who don't want to give him a second chance have to stay and be uncomfortable or lose their jobs. Shouldn’t it be John Lasseter who has to lose HIS job if the employees don’t want to give him a second chance?”
Thompson’s letter gained attention for its zingers against Skydance. Rightfully so. But her letter is just as noteworthy for the personal agony it alludes to. Twice she expresses regret for having to step down from the project, given her admiration for director Alessandro Carloni—lest anyone assume such decisions are easy to make.
“[I] can only do what feels right during these difficult times of transition and collective consciousness raising,” she wrote.
Indeed, Thompson did what’s needed to incite actual change at this stage of the #MeToo movement: standing by its principles even when it’s personally and professionally inconvenient. L.A. Times
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Madam Mayor. Chicagoans went to the polls yesterday to select a new mayor. They had lots of options—14. Given the crowded field, no single candidate secured over 50% of the vote, meaning the top two finishers—former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle—are headed for a runoff that will see Chicago elect its first black female mayor, regardless of which woman wins. Fortune
• Female founders, funded. Let's do a funding roundup today. Bra startup ThirdLove, led by Heidi Zak, brought on $55 million in a round featuring investors Anne (23andMe) and Susan (YouTube) Wojcicki. Rockets of Awesome, the kids' clothing brand founded by Rachel Blumenthal, got $12.5 million from Foot Locker. And Lisa Skeete Tatum's Landit, a platform designed to help women and underrepresented groups advance in the workplace, raised $13 million in a Series A round led by WeWork.
• The millionth Mayday. Theresa May gained some time to get together her Brexit deal by promising a vote in Parliament on whether to delay the U.K.'s Brexit date—something she'd rejected in the past. A new government assessment of a no-deal Brexit says there is "little evidence that businesses are preparing in earnest." New York Times
• Who gets a handout? Ivanka Trump is not a fan of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal, specifically its provision that guarantees jobs with what it calls "family-sustaining" wages. "I don’t think most Americans, in their heart, want to be given something," Trump says. As many have pointed out, Trump herself is a beneficiary of being given something: family wealth. Washington Post
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Boeing nominated former U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley to its board of directors. Admiral Michelle J. Howard, the first black woman to command a U.S. Navy ship, joins IBM's board. Priya Swaminathan and Tonia Davis will be co-heads of Higher Ground Productions, Barack and Michelle Obama's production company. Liza Landsman, former president of Jet.com, joins the board of Squarespace. Jenna Bush Hager will replace Kathie Lee Gifford as Hoda Kotb's co-host in the fourth hour of the Today show.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Kagan's case. An interesting case coming up at the Supreme Court puts an issue Justice Elena Kagan once successfully argued in front of the Court, as solicitor general, back in her line of sight. Can religious symbols be erected on public land without violating the separation of church and state? Kagan once argued yes, to preserve a war memorial in the Mojave National Preserve. The question will be put before the Court again, this time in reference to the Bladensburg Peace Cross in Maryland and with Kagan on the bench. Washington Post
• Vote for mom. The 2020 presidential candidates—the women, anyway—are putting motherhood front and center. For Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, and more, motherhood is an asset—not a liability. Washington Post
• Working (past) 9 to 5. Working long hours and weekends is tough on anyone, but it affects women and men differently. Women who work long hours are more likely to experience symptoms of depression, while men don't see that same correlation. Is it the guilt or the extra household work waiting at home? Researchers aren't sure, but they did find that working weekends only depresses men if they're already unhappy with their job for other reasons. Quartz
• Going pro. Olivia Moultrie was the youngest girls' soccer player to publicly accept a sports scholarship when she committed to the University of North Carolina at age 11. Now, at 13, she's become the youngest female player to forgo her college athletic eligibility by signing an endorsement deal with Nike. New York Times
ON MY RADAR
The madwoman in the newsroom Jezebel
Hillary Clinton is not a candidate. She looms over 2020 anyway New York Times
Cate Blanchett asks Julia Roberts the timeless question: Is enough enough? Interview Magazine
Janet Jackson is the latest mega-artist with a Las Vegas residency Fortune