Last fall, 18 women penned a letter accusing Mark Schwahn, the now-disgraced showrunner and creator of hit TV shows such as One Tree Hill, of sexual misconduct. The women, including actresses Sophia Bush and Hilarie Burton, were inspired to band together after writer Audrey Wauchope broke her silence about Schwahn's behaviour and history of "psychological abuse" on set.
Now, more than a decade after working on the set of OTH, these women are closer than ever and are devoted to making Hollywood a safer place, one in which "pig" bosses like Schwahn can no longer harass, abuse, and manipulate others. In addition to exposing high-profile men who exploit their power, Bush told Refinery29's Rebecca E. Smith that she hopes to spread an ideology of "women for women."
"We're in this moment, when we talk about cultural moments, where we're really examining how to break down these historical ideas that women are supposed to compete with each other," Bush said. "We're talking so vocally about being women for women, and collaborating instead of competing, and all of these things. That wasn't what it was like when we started our show."
Though all of Schwahn's alleged actions were horrific, including the time he reportedly grabbed Bush's butt without her consent, the actress said one of his worst offences was fuelling competition and distrust amongst women on set.
"Does it suck when your boss is a pig? Of course," she said. "But what was worse for us were the moments when he was so skilled at pitting the girls against each other, and we didn't know how to undo that. We did it. We had to do the work to do it. But I think, historically, in the time between those things being set in motion and us figuring out what had been set in motion, we were like, 'Man, it would have been nice if we could have shortened some of that time.'"
Though she can't go back in time, Bush said that she and the other women now support one another and even have a group text thread where they can share all aspects of their lives, both good and bad.
"It's a community of women that I value and cherish," she said, adding that she hopes all women can form a bond with people "who love each other and respect each other and have each other's backs" like they do.
Recognising that's not always easy to do in competitive work environments, Bush offered up a piece of advice for any women who may be tempted to believe workplace gossip: "'Go directly to the person, ask questions, seek vulnerability in your environments. 'Cause that's how we really create safety as a community of women and for coworkers in general."
Watch Bush's entire interview, including her thoughts on The Incredibles 2 and Chicago P.D., below: