We know Scarlett Johansson as a young, very rich, beautiful actress. But like Eva Longoria, when she spoke at the DNC, she stressed her humble beginnings. On stage last night, she didn’t want to be confused as just another representative of young Hollywood, someone famous participating in politics because it’s trendy, she wanted to be viewed as a “representative of the many millions of young Americans, particularly young women who depend on public and nonprofit programs to help them survive.”
She grew up in New York City with four siblings. Her father barely made enough to get by. Her family moved every year and finally settled in a housing development for lower middle income families. She went to a public school, and she and her friends depended on programs for school transport and lunches. To this day, her girlfriends from high school depend on Planned Parenthood and Medicaid for important health care services.
“In 2008, less than half of all eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 24 voted.” she said. “Young America, why are we only speaking with half our voice when so many issues at stake here directly affect us? You know who I’m voting for. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. I’m here to ask you to commit to vote.”
When she was a little girl, her mother–a registered democrat–would take Johansson with her into the polling booth. She’d tell her what buttons to push and when to pull the lever. It made her feel like her mother’s vote wasn’t just about the candidate, it was about their family, about all of the families in their community just like theirs.
But though Scarlett isn’t campaigning because it is trendy, she is not above using her celebrity to influence more people. When she voted in 2008 she wore her “I Voted” sticker all day. It was her favorite accessory, she said. More than anything she wants to see young American voters participate in the democratic process. “I’m here to use whatever attention I’ve been fortunate enough to receive to shed spotlight on what’s at stake for all of us,” she said.