Jane Fonda Gets Candid On Her 'Woke' History, Celebrating 60 Years Since Vogue Cover

Left: Jane Fonda photographed by Irving Penn,  Vogue , July 1959; Left: Fonda in 2018, photo credit Getty Images.  via Vogue US

Left: Jane Fonda photographed by Irving Penn, Vogue, July 1959; Left: Fonda in 2018, photo credit Getty Images. via Vogue US

Bridget Read interviews Jane Fonda about 60 years of activism , looking totally fab in her 80s and her first Vogue cover shot by master artist Irving Penn in July 1959.

We learn that Fonda actually worked for Irving Penn for a year, acting as his assistant at age 19. How thrilling! The Vogue cover shoot was a year before the actor’s first film ‘Tall Story’. She was wearing lipstick-color gloves available at Saks Fifth Avenue and a “spice brown” rinse in her hair.

Jane was studying at the time with Lee Strasberg and assigned to the Eileen Ford Agency as a model to pay for her acting classes. “If you had told me at that time that at age 81 I would again be on the cover of Vogue, I would’ve told you you were out of your mind, that that was completely and utterly impossible,” Jane tells Briget Read. Fonda continues:

My image of women was that they were victims and not very powerful, and my dad didn’t encourage me, or make me feel I was attractive. I mean, everything was a surprise to me. I was surprised that I got cast in a movie. I was surprised that I was ever accepted as a model at Eileen Ford’s agency and surprised that I ever ended up on the cover of Vogue. So my life has just been one big surprise for me.

It fact it wasn’t Jane Fonda’s visit to Angela Davis in the Marin Couny Jail that propelled her into activism. Nor was it her ‘radical’ husband Tom Hayden’s state assembly campaign in California. Fonda became an uber progressive in Paris, hanging with American GIs who had served in Vietnam. They had become resistors and gave the blooming model a book to read by Jonathan Schell called ‘The Village of Ben Suc’. There was no turning back after reading that book.

This interview gets better and better, as Fonda and Read discuss what it is to be ‘woke’. Read on at Vogue.

After Major Award In France, Jane Fonda Heads To Michigan To Get Voters To the Polls"

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The pendulum of Jane Fonda’s life swings wide right now. In Lyon, France to graciously accept the 10th Lumiere Lifetime Achievement Award, Fonda used her platform to first thank the french and then to speak on American politics.

Speaking in French, which she masters fluently, having been married to late film maker Roger Vadim in the 1960s, she played on the surname of the inventors of the moving pictures, the Lumière Brothers. Lumière means light in French, and Fonda said her award was a gift of "amour et lumière", love and light.

Preparing to leave France for Michigan, where Fonda is working with Taraji P. Henson to get out the vote efforts in the minority communities, the Oscar-winning actor currently featured in an HBO biopic ‘Jane Fonda In Five Acts’, summed up the concerns of so many progressives heading into the midterms on November 6.

“The elections on Nov. 6 are the most important elections of my lifetime. So much depends on what happens,” she said. “It's hard for me to breathe right now.” 

Fonda maintains close ties to Georgia, her home with former husband and CNN founder Ted Turner. She also operates a Georgia nonprofit GCAPP (Georgia Campaign For Adolescent Power And Potential)  But now, she can no longer speak to extended family and friends there.

“I love them, but I can't talk to them anymore. And I will fight to my last breath to stop what they are trying to do.” Fonda is referring to massive efforts by Republicans in Georgia to disenfranchise minority voters as the state stands on the precipice of electing its first black woman governor — America’s first black woman governor — Stacy Abrams.

Republican candidate for governor, current secretary of state Brian Kemp, is disenfranchising minority voters at an epic rate. To most progressives and Democrats, Kemp has an untenable conflict of interest and presumably Jane Fonda agrees.

The activist also spoke about America’s president Donald Trump. “I believe he suffers from PTSD because like many men he was, I believe, brutalized by his father when he was very, very young,” she said. “And some men … lose empathy for others [and] also totally lack empathy. And he has been very brutal with his own sons. Father son father son, it's very sad. I hate this. I have empathy for him, it's difficult, I try, I work at it.” (Jane Fonda, you are a far better soul than I am!)

“Martin Luther King said, 'I don't have to like you, but I have to love you.' It's not easy at this moment,” she summed up the situation in America. “We live in the patriarchy and the patriarchy makes us think that empathy and love is weak, but it's not. That is where our strength is. We have two strengths — there are more of us, and also we go forward with love and open minds and warm hearts.”