Actress Mindy Kaling plays an OB-GYN on her hit TV show “The Mindy Project” but she has notoriously avoided getting political – until now.
Kaling joined a host of celebrity women, led by “Girls” star Lena Dunham, who posted selfies wearing Planned Parenthood T-shirts over the past 24 hours using the hashtag #iamwatching2014. Dunham appears topless in her selfie, with the words “Lena loves Planned Parenthood” covering her chest.
“[Women are Watching] is part of our get out the vote effort ahead of the election to get young women out to the polls and explain why it’s important for them to vote this year,” said Caren Spruch, Planned Parenthood Action Fund Senior Advisor, Arts & Entertainment Engagement.
Spruch and Dunham organized today’s outpouring of multimedia, including the Instagram campaign, the T-shirt Dunham designed for Planned Parenthood, and a coordinated video release with Glamour magazine.
Dunham has been working with Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF) longer than she’s been in the national spotlight – she partnered with the organization before her popular HBO series even premiered.
Most recently, PPAF joined Dunham on the road for her “Not That Kind of Girl” book tour this month, where staff provided information about their services and “opportunities for attendees to become involved as advocates and volunteers,” the writer, actress and now author said in an Oct. 2 press release.
Another part of today’s kickoff with Dunham and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund was a short video produced, directed, and funded by Dunham, featuring many of her fans talking about why they’re excited to be women, the issues that are important to them, and encouraging others to get out and vote on Nov. 4. The video ends with a call to action from Dunham: “Girls want change. Girls are change. You have to vote on November 4th.” Viewers are encouraged to text in and join Planned Parenthood’s Women are Watching campaign.
“Lena is just a role model for so many women, young and old – she’s an icon, and a feminist one at that,” said Spruch. “She knows that young people are engaged and that they’re going to have a decisive influence on the election and she’s made it her business to do everything she can to make sure that young people get out and vote.”
So how did Planned Parenthood Action Fund round up the likes of Kaling – whose only political statement to date has been a tweet clarifying that she, unlike the character she plays on TV, is not a Republican – and 14 other A-list women for the campaign launch?
“Lena did it. She loves Planned Parenthood and she loves her friends – who are clearly an unbelievable group of actors and activists,” Spruch told msnbc.
“They love her back and … they wanted to show their support because they know that women’s health and rights are at stake.”
As for Kaling?
“Lena asked her. She did it. She said she loves Planned Parenthood too.”
Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Women are Watching push is one of a few splashy campaigns to get two key demographics – women and young people – to the polls next week.
Meanwhile, Cosmopolitan magazine is sending a “party bus” complete with “snacks, swag, and models” to North Carolina State University next week as part of its #CosmoVotes campaign while Rock the Vote launched it’s #TURNOUTFORWHAT campaign, starring Lil Jon and chock-full of other politically-inclined celebs, including Dunham, on Oct. 7.
Women, particularly single women, are a critical constituency for Democrats in the midterms – 67% of single women voted for President Obama in 2012.
Expectations of lower turnout in the midterm election could prove problematic for the Democrats. It makes perfect sense that groups like Planned Parenthood are making their big push during these last few crucial days. Many of the issues at stake for single women this year are Planned Parenthood’s core issues – access to abortion and birth control being two of the biggest.