SOPHIA BUSH IS A FORCE.
Sophia Bush is the woman you want your daughter to grow up to be.
She's also the woman who would tell you to encourage your kid to be their own person. Forge their own path. It's certainly what she's done. The activist and actress jumpstarted her career when she dropped out of the University of Southern California at 21 to join the CW TV show One Tree Hill. On her 30th birthday, she built a school in Guatemala with the Girl Project. She's raised money for those affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, lived on $1.50 a day to raise awareness about global poverty, taken to her platforms to call the GOP "heartless," supported diversity in Hollywood, gay marriage, and women everywhere.
We caught up with the powerhouse to ask, well, everything about her drive, passion, and badass squad (like the very rad, Ruthie Lindsey).
You made a name for yourself in Hollywood, but activism has always been in your heart. What do you want to be remembered for?
What we do is not who we are. That’s true for all of us. Our careers, no matter what kind, are simply a piece of our greater life puzzle. So personally, I hope that the people who matter most to me remember me as a passionate person who stood up for others. As a woman who was for other women. As a friend who showed up to the best of her ability. And as a tender-hearted softie who took no shit.
I hope that the people who matter most to me remember me as a tender-hearted softie who took no shit.
You’re heading to Houston pre-Style Summit. Why is it important for you to be there early?
It’s devastating to see the effects of Harvey on Houston. But seeing folks step up and show up to help is deeply inspiring. I’m just hoping to do my part and lend a hand where I can. Beyond donating and sending clothing and other supplies, knowing that I have the opportunity to lend a literal hand means a lot to me. Our government may be lead by petulant children who feel that arguing about whether science is real or not — newsflash: It is. Arguing that it isn’t is as stupid as claiming that gravity doesn’t exist—but we as citizens can sidestep the madness and show up for our neighbors. That’s what makes this country so great. Us, and our commitment to and support of one another.
You’ve said that in your early career you felt treated like a “chess pawn.” Which, so many women experience, inside Hollywood and out. How did you come to understand your power?
Understanding power is an interesting notion, and I believe that it’s closely tied to self-worth. But self-worth is not a fixed destination you arrive at and then poof! You never feel insecure, or threatened, or anxious, again. Sadly. Wouldn’t it be great if it was!? As those notions of power and worth apply to career verticals, there are systems and behavior patterns in place that subjugate and challenge women everywhere. In every business. From micro to macro aggressions, we face consistent and unrelenting adversity. It’s exhausting. And for me, refusing to be treated as a chess pawn or a plaything or an object was a reaction to that adversity, and it's blatantly and undeniably unacceptable. There is only so long that people can and will put up with circumstances that are flat out wrong. Using my voice, and standing up for myself and those around me has made all the difference.
How have the past few years changed your thoughts on what your next five years look like?
The past few years taught me a lot about what I want, and also about what I will not tolerate. The positive and negative ends of the spectrum of recent experiences have both been great for goal setting. Everything is a lesson. And it all boils down to the truth that I’m ready to take more control of my career and what it looks like. That will affect projects I want to helm — as an actor, a producer, a director — and the way people working on those projects feel when they come to work. And that’s what I’m looking forward to most. Creating environments that feel safe, freeing, creative, and open. That’s perhaps the greatest way I’ve come to understand my power thus far. And I’m so looking forward to what’s next.
You’re surrounded by such a stellar squad. Can you chat a bit about the moment when you knew female friendships would power you through?
I cannot remember a time when that truth wasn’t clear and apparent to me. The adage “it takes a village” exists in our cultural lexicon for a reason. We are communal beings. We find greater happiness in a community than in solitary existence. And my community of women is such an exceptional example of that truth. We are a family. We lift each other up. We challenge each other. We support each other in work, family, play, and adventure. I’m in awe of my friends’ brilliance and boldness. Their creativity and their capacity for love. I cannot say enough good things about them. We are a tribe of women that is truly for other women. And if you want friendships like that? Be a woman like that. Be for other women. Collaborate with other women. Champion other women. And you’ll draw in women who do the same for you.
Arianna Schioldager is the former Editor-in-Chief at Create & Cultivate. You can follow her @ariannawrotethis.