Actor Matt McGorry—of “Orange is the New Black” and “How to Get Away with Murder” fame— spoke on campus last Thursday to a small but passionate audience at Strong Auditorium. The speech was his first major public speaking event.
McGorry, who advocates for gender equality and feminism through his social media accounts, explained that he felt obligated to speak out on the topics after his girlfriend faced sexism in her entrepreneurial pursuits.
Some felt that the event could have been set up to reach a wider audience, though most in attendance appreciated the speech. “He was preaching to the choir,” sophomore Gracie Peters said. “I wish it had extended to the greater, more ignorant audiences.”
After his speech, McGorry held a Q&A session with the audience, who largely asked him for advice in dealing with friends and family who disagreed with their views on the stance.
Two individuals, though, took the opportunity to ask questions about other social issues they were passionate about. One staff member asked McGorry why certain kinds of lives are considered more important than others, and went on to read a letter she had written McGorry asking him to consider advocating for veganism. McGorry responded that the platform had been of interest to him, and that he would like to look into it in the future.
Another audience member responded to this by asking McGorry how he could wait to respond to other important social issues, citing the importance of increasing environmental protection. In response, McGorry stressed the importance of narrowing the focus of his activism, as the more he says, the less people will listen.
Peters felt that this Q&A was an inappropriate place for these individuals to further their own platforms. “It was completely inappropriate,” Peters said. “The spotlight was on McGorry and not her.”
Junior Simi Grewal, however, felt that the two individuals were justified in asking their questions. “It makes sense that people would reach out to him with things they are passionate about […] Many people who call themselves feminists are also very passionate about the environment, hence the movement, ‘ecofeminism.’”
Grewal noted that McGorry might choose not to support the movement, as well.
“Veganism can be considered classist, since many people don’t have the financial means to eat vegan, and this is in direct opposition of the intersectional feminism that [McGorry] endorses,” Grewal explained.