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Why Jane Fonda Felt Hopeful While Turning 82 in Jail After Being Arrested for Protesting Climate Change

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Actress and activist Jane Fonda reflected on 2019’s “Fire Drill Friday” climate change protests at a TIME100 Summit event

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Why Jane Fonda Felt Hopeful While Turning 82 in Jail After Being Arrested for Protesting Climate Change
Actress and activist Jane Fonda reflected on 2019’s “Fire Drill Friday” climate change protests at a TIME100 Summit event

By Jack Smart Updated on April 25, 2024 03:36PM EDT
Jane Fonda attends the 2024 TIME100 Summit at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 24, 2024 in New York City.
Jane Fonda. PHOTO: CRAIG BARRITT/GETTY
Jane Fonda is remembering her 82nd birthday — which she spent in jail.

At a TIME100 Summit event at New York City’s Frederick P. Rose Hall on Thursday, April 24, the Oscar-winning star, now 86, recalled the “Fire Drill Fridays” climate change protests she helped Greenpeace USA organize in Washington D.C. in 2019.

“For five months,” Fonda told moderator Samuel Jacobs, editor-in-chief of Time magazine, “everyone engaged in civil disobedience and risked getting arrested. Because we knew the majority of Americans were really concerned about climate. 30 percent of them said they would be willing to engage in civil disobedience and when asked why they hadn’t, they said, ‘Because nobody asked me.’”

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Billie Eilish’s Most Stylish Moments

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Why Jane Fonda Felt Hopeful While Turning 82 in Jail After Being Arrested for Protesting Climate Change
Actress and activist Jane Fonda reflected on 2019’s “Fire Drill Friday” climate change protests at a TIME100 Summit event

By Jack Smart Updated on April 25, 2024 03:36PM EDT
Jane Fonda attends the 2024 TIME100 Summit at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 24, 2024 in New York City.
Jane Fonda. PHOTO: CRAIG BARRITT/GETTY
Jane Fonda is remembering her 82nd birthday — which she spent in jail.

At a TIME100 Summit event at New York City’s Frederick P. Rose Hall on Thursday, April 24, the Oscar-winning star, now 86, recalled the “Fire Drill Fridays” climate change protests she helped Greenpeace USA organize in Washington D.C. in 2019.

“For five months,” Fonda told moderator Samuel Jacobs, editor-in-chief of Time magazine, “everyone engaged in civil disobedience and risked getting arrested. Because we knew the majority of Americans were really concerned about climate. 30 percent of them said they would be willing to engage in civil disobedience and when asked why they hadn’t, they said, ‘Because nobody asked me.’”

Jane Fonda and Ted Danson Arrested Near Capitol in Climate Change Protest
The weekly events, which resulted in multiple arrests for Fonda — and fellow famous actors Ted Danson, Sam Waterston, Catherine Keener and Rosanna Arquette — were “aiming at the great unasked,” continued Fonda.
Jane Fonda arrest
Jane Fonda in 2019. LONDON ENTERTAINMENT /ARLO HEMPHILL VIA MOPHO / SPLASH
“I turned 82 in jail there,” she said. “And I figured, if I do this a whole bunch of people will go, ‘God, if she can do it, I guess I can.’”

The Grace & Frankie actress has been an activist for as long as she’s been a screen star, speaking out about feminism, racism and more for decades. “I’ve been an environmentalist all my life,” she said when asked about choosing to address the climate crisis.

“I have a platform and I wasn’t really using it full out,” recalled Fonda of the moment she reached out to nonprofit Greenpeace. “I went down a rabbit hole. I knew I wasn’t doing enough… I said, ‘I’m gonna put myself on the line. I’m gonna leave my comfort zone and raise a ruckus.’ This is the smartest thing I ever did.”

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