Former Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams on Thursday urged Hollywood producers not to boycott the state in protest of its so-called “heartbeat” abortion law, calling on them instead to fight the bill by supporting local organizations.
“While I support those who want to live their values by not bringing their resources here, I do not want to harm the citizens of Georgia who are doing this work,” Abrams, who ran for governor as a Democrat last year, said on MSNBC.
Members of the entertainment industry have weighed whether to pull their productions from the state, a popular filming location for Hollywood because it offers a generous tax credit program for film and television projects. In recent years, Georgia has attracted several major projects, including Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and Marvel’s “Avengers” franchise.
In 2018, 455 movie and television productions filmed in Georgia, generating $2.7 billion in direct spending in the state, the governor’s office said last year.
Some actors and producers have pledged not to work in the state in protest of the bill signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp (R) last week, which would restrict abortions at around six weeks of pregnancy, when many women do not even know they are pregnant.
But several producers are now choosing to keep their productions in Georgia, while pledging to contribute to groups that are fighting the abortion law, like the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood.
Abrams on Thursday encouraged this approach. While stressing that she supports “the idea of economic boycotts” — acknowledging how they “transformed the South” during the civil rights movement — she argued that in this case, boycotting wouldn’t be enough to pressure the state’s Republican lawmakers who are pushing the anti-abortion legislation.
“They know that they can demonize Hollywood, try to take their resources, but not accept the responsibility of protecting the women of Georgia,” she said.
Abrams advised those considering a boycott to instead “invest in the work on the ground” by contributing to the ACLU, reproductive health organizations or her own voting rights organization, Fair Fight Georgia — in order to “win this fight long-term,” she said.
Last week, directors J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele said they will donate their salaries from “Lovecraft Country,” an upcoming HBO series that will film in Georgia, to the ACLU and Fair Fight Georgia.
On Wednesday, producers Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping also said they will contribute to the ACLU while continuing to film two upcoming projects in the state.
Stacey Abrams’ remarks on the issue echoed concerns from women working in film and television production in the state, some of whom circulated a petition this week encouraging Hollywood not to stop doing business there.
“To those who choose not to come to Georgia because of the actions of our government, we understand your reasoning. But please know this: Georgia’s hardworking women and many men in this industry will continue to be the resistance from the inside,” the petition reads. “With our voices, our art, and our daily boots on the ground, we’ll keep working for the leadership we deserve. Your condemnation is understandable, but what we really need most is allies.”
While major Hollywood studios and companies have previously spearheaded economic boycotts, none of them have publicly commented on the Georgia law ― likely steering clear of the issue because the law is not slated to go into effect until 2020, and will almost certainly face a lengthy legal battle.
Last week, the Motion Picture Association of America said it would “monitor developments” on the bill, citing the pending court challenges.