Alysia Reiner is an actress, activist and writer best known for her roles in Orange is the New Black, How to Get Away with Murder and Rosewood. She’s currently filming on the FX show Better Things and starred last year in the EQUITY, the first female-driven Wall Street film. When she isn’t busy bringing women’s stories to life on the small and big screens, she also uses her platform to spark change.
Reiner, who has spoken at the White House and the UN about women and entrepreunership, and was awarded a Sarah Powell Huntington Leadership Award, is involved with many charities—included among them The Young Women’s Leadership Network and Amnesty International—and is committed to sustainable living and speaking out. And she will appear, alongside other feminist celebrities and movement leaders, at the Feminist Majority Foundation’s 30th Anniversary celebration next week in Los Angeles. The FMF, which publishes Ms., is ringing in three decades of using the “F” word—and being at the forefront of major feminist victories.
We wanted to join in the commemoration by connecting with Reiner for a quick chat on what the “F” word means to her.
When did you first start using the “F” word? Did you have a feminist “click moment?”
I don’t know if I actually truly knew what the “F” word meant till I went to the Women’s March in D.C. in January. That was my Oprah “Aha!” moment about the “F” word. Then and there I knew in every cell of my body. In a way I don’t know if I can put into words. The “F” word became incredibly visceral and very experiential.
How would you define feminism, and what does it mean to you?
I think for me this clip says it all.
EMBRACE IT and MAKE IT YOUR OWN!
The definition is quite perfect: “The advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” But I believe how one practices it is what it’s all about and that is something you have to explore daily and be very active about.
The FMF is celebrating thirty years of fighting for feminist progress. What victories for women’s rights from your lifetime made the biggest impression on you?
It’s so fascinating to me to consider this, as I realize so much progress was made “before my time,” and so many crucial moments to celebrate as women for our rights happened in the 60’s and early 70’s. Huge strides like Roe v. Wade, the Equal Pay Act, Title IX—moments I wish I had been alive for and old enough to celebrate!
In my lifetime, the victories I really was able to take part in and feel deeply excited and proud of the women who made it happen are: Gender Equality being one of the top Millennium Development Goals established by the UN—and being at the UN to talk about it! Strides in education for women across the globe and the work of friends like Sophia Bush and Glamour’s The Girl Project. Michelle Obama’s incredible United State of Women. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. A woman winning the popular vote for the Presidency of the United States of America! And, of course, the Women’s March—in D.C. and all over the globe. What an incredible incredible moment in history.