When we heard that Sandra Bullock will be playing former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis in an upcoming film titled Let Her Speak, we almost fell off our chairs. An incredible award-winning actress playing a badass woman who staged a 13-hours-long filibuster to protect women’s reproductive rights? Just shut up and take our money.
We’re at a point in time where many conservative politicians are still waging a war against women’s healthcare, and women from every background imaginable are rising up to the challenge of running for political office, so the film feels like a perfect fit for this era. Refinery29 caught up with Davis on Friday to talk about Let Her Speak, how she feels about Sandra Bullock playing her, and what advice she has for young women entering politics.
First of all, how does it feel to have a movie made about your life?
“It feels really exciting to know that someone of the talent and the caliber of Sandra Bullock is willing to help to tell our story. What I am the most excited about is the opportunity for people to know more about the landscape of what’s happening through politics and to women, in the hopes that it will inspire even more of a movement to fight for our reproductive freedoms and our full equal rights.”
If you ever thought about a film being made about you, who did you picture would play you?
“[laughs] I honestly never believed something like this would happen. I know a lot of folks after the filibuster were suggesting that Connie Britton would be a good person to play me. And I adore Connie Britton, so that would have been fabulous. But, of course, I’m thrilled that Sandra Bullock has taken interest in the project and expressed a willingness to do it.”
Yes, Connie Britton would have been another great choice! So, as you think about this film, what are you looking forward to the most?
“You know what I’m really looking forward to? Telling the story of why that day became the day it became. It really had so little to do with me, and so much more to do with the fact that thousands of people decided they cared enough about something to show up and to be a part of it. That’s what made that day special. It was the thousands of people who were in the Texas capitol and who literally themselves got the filibuster pass the midnight deadline, because they expressed justifiable outrage and contributed to preventing the secretary of the Senate from taking a vote before the clock struck midnight. It couldn’t have been scripted better if it was written for Hollywood!”
The film feels incredibly timely. What would you tell women who are on the frontline defending reproductive rights?
“I would tell them they’re more powerful than they know. Just think about what happened this week with the elections and how women played such an important part in determining the outcome of those races. We’re not only deciding who the elected officials are going to be, we’re breathing life into the policies that we care about by making sure that we’re electing the people who are going to fight for them.”
You’ve been on both sides of winning and losing elections, so what advice would you give to young women entering politics?
“When you’re running for public office, you’re not only risking failure — you’re risking failure in a very visible way. I lost my gubernatorial race. That was a big, public failure in the eyes of some. In my eyes, I see all the good that came out of it. I hear the stories of young women every day that say to me, ‘My trajectory changed because of your campaign.’ There are all these intangible, but wonderful ripple effects that happen even if the stated goal is not achieved. So for anyone thinking about it, please do it. The only thing you’ll risk is not hitting your immediate goal, but you’ll learn along the way and you’ll eventually get there.”
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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