Sophia Bush talked to Self about her activism on behalf of girls education.
She has worked on building schools in the developing world with Pencils of Promise, raised money for those affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, lived on $1.50 a day to raise awareness about global poverty, raised funds and awareness for Fuck Cancer, publicly supported gay marriage, and so much more.
“We want to make sure we’re breaking down the barriers to the things that are keeping [girls] from that education — whether it’s tuition, whether it’s self-esteem building organizations, whether it’s uniforms, anything,” Bush said. “We support women getting that schooling in 95 different countries, including the United States.”
On how she picks her roles: “I read a lot of scripts, and either it clicks with me or it doesn’t. I don’t want to play someone I don’t want to hang out with, because I have to hang out with that person all day. I think that is probably the reason I gravitate toward women who are strong and capable, and who are also not ashamed of their flaws and who screw up and make mistakes. That’s real life, you know? We’re very multi-faceted. We’re real human beings. And I only want to play people like that.”
On how shows and movies can bring attention to issues like human trafficking and sexual assault: “There are certain things that are very hard for people to wrap their brains around. You see everyone denying that climate change is happening, and we know scientifically 100 percent proven fact, it’s happening and we’re causing it. We know that. And I understand that it can be hard to quantify, and I know it’s also very hard for people to quantify that there are more slaves on earth today than there were when slavery was a legal trade. No one understands how to process that. They go, ‘But people don’t do that anymore.’ And people do. They just hide it. So when you can bring those issues to light and hopefully inspire people to dedicate themselves to volunteering, to working on all of this stuff, to getting conscious about where their goods come from, who’s producing their clothing. Those are things that we need in order to create change.”
On how she can prioritize wellness when she has so many things going on: “It’s definitely really hard. I mean, I had 10 minutes for lunch and was sitting in there and ate a club sandwich and a plate of french fries. I’ve never been one who’s about denying myself anything under the guise of being healthy. But what I find is that I really just try to balance. And for me, even just trying to drink enough water every day keeps me healthier. If I can be really great and put some lemon in it and get a little alkalinity going, I feel really good. On Saturday, I was exhausted after a long week, but I made plans with my girlfriends to go to a spin class. If it had just been me, I would’ve stayed in bed. But I’d made plans, so I went. And that felt really good. It’s just about doing what you can. It doesn’t have to be some big crazy regimen. You don’t have to work out six days a week and be macrobiotic to feel like you’re doing it right. I think it’s about making incremental changes when and where you can that make you feel better so you continue to want to make those changes.”
On what she does to make sure she’s mentally feeling her best: “Headspace is a great way to give yourself a little practice. It’s a meditation app. It’s 10 minutes and it’s guided, and I love that, because it’s something I can do. If it’s something I try to do all by myself, I generally get distracted because there’s too much work to do. Just carving out time for yourself. And likewise, it’s really important to have stillness. I give myself a good HGTV marathon every couple weeks. I will literally spend a day in bed and just watch House Hunters all day, because I love it and because it’s a complete unwind for me. And it inspires me, because I spend most of my time off of work helping my friends decorate their homes. So it gives me a little bit of excitement on that. Lately I’m on Fixer Upper: Chip and Joanna Gaines are the real deal.”
Her advice to young women who are facing obstacles in their careers: “I don’t think anyone’s ever really felt like they’ve nailed it. Literally the first thing that came to mind when you said that, I wanted to be like, ‘Welcome to the club.’ It’s hard, no matter what. It just is tougher, but I think you can also take solace in knowing that other women have your back because they’ve been where you are. And I think you’ve just gotta be willing to do the work and prove yourself. And also, build up a thick enough skin that when something doesn’t go your way in the workplace, you can take constructive criticism if it is an issue you’re having, and you can also look at it with confidence to say, ‘This is not at all about me, and I’m just going to keep moving forward,’ when you know it isn’t. It takes a lot of courage within yourself I think to go out there and chase your dreams. And you know, you just gotta do it.”
And her thoughts on the problem of diversity in Hollywood: “It’s up to us. We’ve gotta make the noise, and then we’ve gotta demand the change. Gina Rodriguez is a friend of mine, and I love that she’s saying, ‘As a Latina, I want to highlight people of any ethnic background out there who are killing it in Hollywood.’ I’m like, ‘Yes! Do it!’ Because I look around, and I have a diverse group of friends. I look at all of us and I see all of us nailing it in our fields, and then I’m taken aback when I see the numbers, when I see all the statistics. And then I go, ‘Okay. How do we change this?’ It was incredibly inspiring to spend a lot of my awards season talking to Gina and Eva Longoria and Viola Davis. They’re incredible women. And to be catching up with Emilia Clarke. I have girlfriends all across the board of ages and races and shapes and sizes. And when people I care about feel underrepresented, I go, ‘So how do we change that? What do we do about it?’ And I think it helps that people are making noise, but what I love about what Gina’s been saying is that’s also where you have to spend your money. Show up and watch those shows. Show up and go to those movies. And I already see it changing. My girlfriends that aren’t working right now are like, ‘Oh my god. You should see casting breakdowns. Everything’s changing. Everything they’re casting right now is ethnic.’ And I’m like, ‘Great!’ It’s about time. So hopefully the noise that we’re making is actually making a difference. Our voices are our biggest weapon, so we better use them.”
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