Juliana Margulies: On-Screen Badass, Off-Screen Women’s Advocate

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If you haven’t ever watched an episode of ‘The Good Wife’, seriously what have you been doing?!? This is the hit show that put actress Juliana Margulies back in the limelight after a successful stint on ‘ER’ in the 90s, and established her as one of the most formidable Hollywood names and overwhelmingly put any excuse about women over a certain age being unwatchable or undesirable to rest.

She was recently named by Time magazine as one of their 100 Most Influential People of 2015 where New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wrote about her being a kindred spirit.

“It was her passion, fearlessness, empathy and an unwavering determination to make a difference in people’s lives off the screen that resonated with me,” she writes before adding a paragraph about Juliana’s passion off screen that allows her to be a total badass outside of her award-winning TV show.

“She puts her heart and soul into every issue she cares about. She’s not afraid to dream big and do what she loves, whether it’s in her acting career, in her advocacy or being a mom. It’s because of women like Julianna that I know we can and will change the world,” she ended.

If you’re wondering what Senator Gillibrand is referring to in terms of advocacy, then check this out.

In an interview with Net-A-Porter’s The Edit, Juliana talks about the parallels of playing a top-notch lawyer on screen and the legal issues she is passionate about in real life.

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Her character Alicia Florrick is a woman scorned by her political husband who was found to be cheating on her. Instead of kicking him to the curb, she controversially stood by him while also taking charge of her own life. After being a stay-at-home-mom for 13 years, she decided to go back into the work force as a lawyer and climbs the corporate ladder. Her character’s journey on the show has not been without its own controversy and scandal, but that’s what makes Alicia so interesting – she is not a cookie-cutter middle aged woman.

“Women love Alicia. She was an underdog. She was in a sink-or-swim situation, and she swam. People love a flawed character they can relate to,” said Juliana.

Off-screen Juliana couldn’t be further from her scandalous iconic character. She is passionate about advocacy, having campaigned for marriage equality and says philanthropy is important to her. She also talks about how encouraging it is to see the younger generation fighting for important causes.

“There is a generation coming up that understands equal rights. People fight for what they believe in – equal pay, gay rights, all of these things that should have happened years ago. [But] we have a long way to go,” she said.

This year the Supreme Court will make a landmark ruling on gay marriage that will change the laws federally. If the majority of the 9 Justices approve, gay marriage becoming legal will be on par with the impact Roe v. Wade made in 1973 when abortion became legal in America.

Juliana has been campaigning for an important law that will change the way sexual abuse is treating by the justice system around the country. It is called Erin’s Law, named after a woman by the name of Erin Merryn, an American woman who suffered sexual abuse as a child but was too ashamed to tell anyone.

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The law has already been passed in 20 states but Juliana and others are fighting to see this implemented in all 50. Erin’s Law is important because it states that only 1 in 10 sexually abused children have the courage to tell someone about it. This bill will ensure children have a voice to report abuse, and demands that schools educate children about prevention.

It is a cause worth fighting for and it is important that people with such huge public platforms like Juliana use their celebrity for currency like this.

Aside from her advocacy, the 6-time Golden Globe nominee and 2-time Emmy Award-winner talks about how TV, unlike film, has become a powerful medium for female writers, directors, and actresses to create more equal opportunities for themselves in an industry that is still largely run on testosterone.

Diverse characters, new emerging digital platforms and increased opportunities has become a winning formula for shows that perhaps 10 years ago would have never seen the light of day. We’re talking about shows such as ‘Orange Is The New Black’, ‘Transparent’, and heck even ‘The Good Wife’ featuring a woman in a lead role who indulges in scandalous undesirable activities.

“Women are realizing that the most challenging and interesting things written for them are now on TV,” she said.

“Until five years ago, TV catered to male leads. I wouldn’t say it’s equal, but it’s getting there,” she added.

If the presence of women in prime time roles such as Juliana Margulies as Alicia Florrick is anything to go by, pretty soon sketches like Amy Schumer’s “last f**kable day” won’t be as funny because the times are in fact changing.

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