More Than "A Cup of Ambition": Hollywood Icon and Activist Jane Fonda Is Fighting "9 to 5" for Our Planet’s Future

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In the HBO documentary Jane Fonda in Five Acts (2018), the Oscar-winning actor, fitness tycoon and activist says in an interview from the ‘70s, "Any healthy country, like any healthy individual, should be in perpetual revolution." Although Fonda, now 82 years old, acknowledges that she’s made some mistakes over the course of her life, she doesn’t believe her commitment to activism is one of them. In fact, speaking out and taking action is a source of pride. "I never felt real," Fonda says in the documentary’s narration. "I wanted my life to have meaning."

That meaning came to her in the late 1960s while she was living in France and becoming increasingly aware of Civil Rights demonstrations and anti-war protests in the U.S. Instead of living comfortably an ocean away, Fonda returned to the States and committed herself to activism, despite the toll her actions might have had on her blossoming career as an actor — and despite the fact that she was often in opposition to her famous father, Henry Fonda.

In the 1970s, Fonda became the target of government surveillance: She campaigned on behalf of revolutionary Black activists, such as Angela Davis, and held fundraisers for the Black Panthers in her home. In 1971, Fonda visited Davis in prison in San Rafael, California and, according to The New York Times, spoke to the revolutionary leader about "everyone joining forces to stop repression in this country and abroad." Needless to say, Fonda was open to listening, learning and finding a lane in which she could be most productive.