Promoting her upcoming E! series, Citizen Rose, at NBC’s Television Critics Association press tour on Tuesday, the activist was vocal about her disdain for the initiative, which called for Golden Globe attendees to wear black on the red carpet to show solidarity for the victims and sought donations for a legal defense fund.
Though McGowan didn’t say as much, the 44-year-old actress suggested she was unwittingly roped into publicly supporting the Time’s Up movement, which counts stars like Reese Witherspoon, Eva Longoria, Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd and America Ferrera as members.
“I was asked to lend my name -- someone texted me actually, to ask me to lend my name to a letter to aid female farmworkers [against] sexual harassment. I said, ‘Of course.’ The next thing I know, I’m endorsing Time’s Up,” McGowan said.
McGowan, who says she doesn’t watch red carpets (“not my thing,” she cheekily said), commented on her take on the all-black red carpet on Sunday night at the Golden Globes. She called out the Globes for its "Hollywood fakery."
“From the outside, what [people] see on the red carpet, I see what’s happening behind the scenes what’s going on, so I know a lot of things,” she said. “I think a system that’s massively broken got a band-aid to make yourselves feel better to what you’ve all known about [and] were participants to in that silence. That, I do not forgive.”
McGowan had been filming on her own for three years, but production didn’t ramp up for Citizen Rose until September, mere weeks before the New York Times broke the news on the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal. Citizen Rose offers an all-access look as the series follows McGowan as she readies her memoir, BRAVE, for release. The Charmed star likened the series to “volunteer work” she’s doing in order to shed light on a timely and relevant subject.
McGowan was also asked to defend joining the E! family amid the reported salary drama between network personalities Jason Kennedy and Catt Sadler. Sadler reportedly left after discovering she was making less money than her male colleague. (E! chief Frances Berwick later said that Kennedy and Sadler had different roles and were thus, paid as such.)
“That came about after I already had done my deal,” she clarified, sharing her thought process over why she didn’t part ways with E! because of it: “No, let me hang out awhile. Maybe things will change.”
“Probably if you were sitting next to a woman and you worked the same job as her right now and you said, ‘What do you get paid?’ Let’s say you both have been in it for two years. I almost guarantee you you’re being paid more and that’s a difference. And that is systemic,” she continued. “You can call it out against E!, you can call it out against your own organization and you can call it out against every job there is because it’s not legal to discriminate that way. We’re in a time of reckoning and a reset button.”
“It’s so systemic,” McGowan added. “But, for me, I'm comfortable working there, because I know what I'm doing."
Before the panel began, McGowan made it clear that she was not there to discuss Weinstein, asking TCA attendees in a pre-taped video: "I appreciate no mentions of the name we all know -- or anything rude or combative, please," McGowan asked. "I'll happily answer your questions if they're respectful."
The Citizen Rose two-hour special premieres Tuesday, Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on E!, with the four-part limited series airing in the spring.