Friday night in Los Angeles, United Talent Agency scrapped their typical Oscar Party and instead threw a rally to express support for freedom of speech and artistic expression. The United Voices Rally held outside UTA’s headquarters where the creative community came together to raise over $320,000 for refugee relief and civil liberties.
“As the Oscars draw the world’s attention to our country and our community, we must raise our voices loud and clear: The politics of fear and division do not reflect who we are as a nation, and united we can do better,” said Jeremy Zimmer, CEO of United Talent Agency at the rally.
Nearly 2,000 attendees showed up for the event where California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Jodie Foster, Michael J. Fox, Reza Aslan, Keegan-Michael Key and Wilmer Valderrama all spoke. They were accompanied by performances from DJ Cassidy, painter David Garibaldi, singer Ben Harper, Sam and Casey Harris of X Ambassadors, who debuted an original song— “Hoping” —which will benefit the American Civil Liberties Union.
Also addressing the crowd were International Rescue Committee President and CEO David Miliband and American Civil Liberties Union executive Hector Villagra. The two organizations are the recipients of a $250,000 donation from UTA, as well as an additional $70,000 raised through the agency’s online CrowdRise campaign.
The highlight of the evening turned out to be a recorded message from Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, a UTA client. Farhadi was nominated for his film “The Salesman,” but refused to show attend the ceremonies in protest to the travel ban that targeted individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries.
“I am grateful to the civility of my fellow filmmakers and the UTA family who have reacted responsibly to discrimination and injustice,” said Farhadi, in his first public appearance since his travel announcement. “Filmmakers can break stereotypes around the world by turning their cameras to capture shared human qualities.”
Below are photos of the most inspiring moments from the protest below including the rousing speeches from political figures and performances from passionate artists.
Photos by Alex J. Berliner.
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom:
“In the world’s most diverse democracy, I happen to think the world looks to us to see it’s possible to live, advance and prosper together across every conceivable difference. What makes us great today, in California and as a nation, is that at our best we don’t tolerate our diversity. At our best we celebrate our diversity.”
Iranian-American author Reza Aslan:
“We must stand united and insistent that our United States continues to be bound together by certain principles that make us all American. If we allow our nation to declare that these values no longer apply to one group, then we put all our rights at risk.”
Actor and Comedian Keegan-Michael Key:
“Once you tell a story, it is impossible for a person not to stand in your shoes or see something from your point of view. That is our job, our privilege, our responsibility as artists. We will speak for those who cannot speak. We will fight and act and paint and sing for those who cannot express themselves, for those who feel left behind, for those who feel they are not being represented. That is our job as artists.”
Actress and Director Jodie Foster:
“This is exactly the way to celebrate our industry, artistic expression and our commitment to humanity on-screen and off. This is a singular time in history, and it’s time to show up. It makes me so proud to see so many people engaging in support for civil rights and our traditions of fairness, freedom and empathy.”
Musicians Casey Harris and Sam Harris of X Ambassadors who performed at the rally.
Musician Ben Harper performing at the rally.
International Rescue Committee’s President and CEO David Miliband:
“The Executive Order published in Washington three weeks ago was one story of America. Today, this rally in Hollywood is telling another story—a story of humanity, of reason, of patriotism that is founded in values and not in ethnicity.”
Actor Wilmer Valderrama:
“My parents sold everything they had back in Venezuela just so we could return to the United States. My sister and I were the first to speak English in my family. My story is not my story. It is the story of millions who for generations have come to this land and brick by brick made it a country. Because of them we look out the window, see the American flag and we know at any minute anything could happen.”