Hollywood kicks off Oscar weekend with political rally

Unlike other Oscar weekend events taking place in Los Angeles on Friday, the one thrown by United Talent Agency didn’t have a dress code. But it did have a message.

“We’re standing in unity with our artists, and we’re standing in unity with all people who are concerned about what’s happening with our government and in this country right now,” Jeremy Zimmer, CEO of United Talent Agency, told CNN before the start of a much-talked about rally that the company sponsored in lieu of holding its annual pre-Oscar bash.

The United Voices rally featured celebrity speakers like Jodie Foster, Michael J. Fox, Wilmer Valderrama, and Keegan-Michael Key.

Foster said she doesn’t usually feel comfortable using her “public face for activism,” but thought the rally was “a great idea.”

“This year is a very different year,” she said. “It’s time to show up.”

She added: “When we get to celebrate excellence in film like we’re doing today, like we’re doing this week, we can’t forget that this industry is in the business of humanism. It’s that compassion that makes us strong.”

Speakers largely spoke against President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration — including his travel ban — and the administration’s decision to withdraw federal protections for transgender students, among other things.

A handful of protesters were present at the event. Two declined to be interviewed by CNN.

UTA made the decision to forgo its annual bash earlier this month, and instead donated $250,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union and the International Rescue Committee.

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