Breaking New Ground
Instead, Charlize agrees with Oprah's take on success. "There's no such thing as luck," Oprah tells Charlize. "There's only preparation meeting the moment of opportunity. ... If you weren't prepared when the opportunity showed up, nothing would have happened."
Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
Charlize says Stuart is also her best friend. "He's just incredible in so many ways," says Charlize. "I mean, five years later I still can't stop talking to him. You know? We sit at a dinner and we can't get enough of each other's conversation. And we like making out!"
Oprah had an AHA! moment when Charlize shared her thoughts on beauty: "I really believe that we look physically the way we do because of the emotional impact that we've made on our bodies during our life." When developing a character—both inside and out—Charlize says she keeps that philosophy in mind. "We start with the emotional stuff and then I try to go,' Well, these are the marks that this emotional life has left on her body.'"
"We all go through a lot of turmoil and a lot of difficult things that maybe we'd want to forget," Charlize explains. "But you grow from those things and when you see those moments and those lines, it's not looking back at devastation. It's going, 'I've grown from this.' And so in a way ... you've earned it."
Because both Charlize and her mother are "very strong personalities," they often agree to disagree. "We have great conversation, I like to call it—not fights," Charlize explains. "The great thing that she really encouraged when I was young was to think for myself."
What does Gerda think of her movie star daughter? "Of course you have to be proud of your child. They don't all have to be movie stars. I just have a daughter that is a movie star. But to me, she's just my daughter. I love her work. I'm very proud of her."
Even though the mine is required by the government to hire women, many of the male employees are outraged and begin terrorizing the new female hires. As she witnesses the escalating abuse towards women in the mine, Josey grows angrier and angrier. Complaining to her boss got Josey labeled a troublemaker, and the harassment against her turned violent. With the help of a lawyer played by Oscar® nominee Woody Harrelson, Josey files a landmark sexual harassment lawsuit against the mine, winning the first case of its kind in history in 1984.
"At the end of the day I'm only servicing the greater story," Charlize says. "When I watch this film, I'm incredibly moved by it...because of everybody in it and because I think it's a great emotional story."
Charlize says that the women also inspired her performance. "I have such a great appreciation for people who come from these rural places, because I grew up in a rural town and I find them incredibly strong and incredibly resilient. They don't sit back and wallow in self-pity and feel sorry for themselves because they don't have that luxury. At the end of the day, they have to do what they have to do to get through and to survive. And in saying that, they're the funniest, lighthearted people you will ever meet. I had an incredible time going and doing the research and meeting with these women and having them be so open and so honest. I think they really wanted us to tell the truth, and they knew that they had to give us that information and they really trusted us."
Denise was hired after a job search in the sales department. Charlotte had taken a job with the same company years before, starting when she was 18 years old. Charlotte says she noticed early on that the male managers routinely made inappropriate comments to the female staff.
"The environment was horrible," Denise says. "The room that we worked in was like a men's locker room." Both women say they were subjected to repeated verbal and sexual abuse by coworkers and managers.
As tensions rose, the women say things got even more out of hand. "There was another sales rep," Denise says. "As I'd walk or pass him in the hallway, he would grab my arm, twist it, put it behind my back, and a couple times I thought he was going to break my arm. And it was just like that was okay to treat me like that. I guess it was just like acceptable behavior over there.
Denise says one man in particular repeatedly assaulted her and would ask her inappropriate questions. "Whenever I encountered him, he would push me against the wall, rub up against me," she says. "He would ask me, 'Do you like sex? Did you have sex last night?' Or, 'Did you have some sex today? Do you like sex?'"
Shortly after Charlotte rejected her boss's proposition, she says, she was demoted. "The next day I went to the [Human Resources] department and spoke with the manager," Charlotte says. "She looked at me and shrugged her shoulders and said, 'That's how he is.'"
Even though she said she complained, Charlotte claims his behavior became more persistent. "He started calling me every single day on the phone," she says. "Paging me into his office. Making comments to me about sleeping with him. One day he told me he wanted me to leave work with him to go have sex with him."
Denise claims she, too, was harassed by John Burgess. "He was asking me about how often I had sex and telling me you only have so much time before you're unattractive. And he used to always tell me, come and see me. And I knew that he was interested in me, so of course I never went to see him."
Denise and Charlotte finally quit their jobs and they joined a pending class action lawsuit along with 101 other women who worked for the same company.
A statement released by the company said: "The company has continually and consistently denied the allegations and has cooperated with the court by not publicly discussing the case. As such, the company cannot and will not deviate from the court decree and believes that any comment by either party on the matter is totally inappropriate."
After witnessing a frightening incident between two other radar operators in which they allowed two planes to come within 300 feet of each other—the standard separation of aircraft is 1,000 feet—Anne says she alerted officials at the Federal Aviation Administration of the dangerous conditions. She was quickly labeled as a snitch, she says, and became the subject of severe harassment. "I couldn't get anybody to understand that this wasn't about me being picked on," Anne says. "This was about the safety of air traffic. This was about innocent people's lives. This was about a system that had gone awry."
Anne says the more she tried to prove her allegations, the worse the harassment grew. She says that her life was threatened, she was physically harassed and assaulted, and she was moved out of the radar room and into the control tower as an air traffic controller. Through it all, quitting was never an option. "I mean, I make the best of it at work," Anne says. "I love the people I work with in the control tower. They could not have been any nicer."
Anne filed a report about the practices of the air traffic controllers at the Dallas airport with the Inspector General Office of the Department of Transportation. An investigation found that some operational errors—when two aircraft come too close to each other—were indeed being covered up and a report was submitted to a Congressional subcommittee and the office of the President of the United States. However, Anne remains dissatisfied with the resolution and disciplinary action taken as a result of the investigation.
On October 6, 2005, Anne Whiteman will receive the Special Counsel's Public Servant Award for her contribution to public service and airline safety. For more information visit www.osc.gov.
If you feel you have been a victim of sexual harassment or any other form of discrimination at work or by a potential employer, you can contact:
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission