Editors note: Alyssa Milano, currently in Georgia filming Season 2 of her Netflix series Insatiable, has written an op-ed titled “When It Comes to Women’s Rights in Georgia, Hollywood Is Silent,” about the current “Heartbeat Bill” that is up for a vote Tuesday in the state’s House. The bill passed by the state Senate on Friday would outlaw abortions once a doctor detects a fetal heartbeat in the womb. Gov. Brian Kemp said he plans to sign the legislation, which would become one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation. In a tweet Sunday, Milano urged Hollywood, which utilizes Georgia’s expansive film and TV tax incentives, to boycott the state if the bill passes. In her op-ed for Deadline, the actress calls on her Hollywood colleagues to take a stand as they did against Georgia’s 2016 “religious liberty” legislation and urges Georgia leaders to defeat the “Heartbeat Bill” on Tuesday.
In 2016, Georgia’s film industry was ready to pack up and leave the state because of divisive legislation passed by the state’s General Assembly. The film industry and business community got to work and organized against the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was essentially a license to discriminate against the state’s LGBTQ+ community. Fortunately for Georgia’s film industry, then-Governor Nathan Deal, a Republican, had the good sense to veto the bill, protect his state’s reputation, and save Georgians from economic decline.
Georgia has rightly been called “The Hollywood of the South.” I am currently shooting season 2 of the Netflix original series Insatiable in Georgia. It also boasts titles like Baby Driver, The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, The Hunger Games, The Vampire Diaries and several Marvel films. Last year alone, Georgia was home to 455 filming projects, generating $2.7 billion in direct spending for the state.
Georgia’s success in film is no accident. The state’s leaders go out of their way with huge tax incentives that attract these projects. That’s why it baffles me that, instead of continuing to foster a pro-film environment, state leaders are going down a divisive road once again, refighting culture wars and jeopardizing one of the state’s biggest sources of revenue.
This time, their target is women.
HB 481, the so-called “Heartbeat Bill,” would effectively ban abortion in Georgia. It should instead be called a “forced pregnancy bill” — because it would outlaw abortion before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. It’s the most anti-woman bill of its kind in the country, and it sends the exact wrong message about the kind of state Georgia’s leaders wish to create. In short, HB 481 would make Georgia the most regressive state in the country.
Why is HB 481 so alarming for Georgia when it comes to film? Each time leaders in the film industry schedule a production, they think very carefully about where we are going to film it. Women are increasingly in these decision-making roles. A lot of factors go into filming decisions, and when multiple options are available, state and local laws become part of the equation. It’s not just about tax laws; it’s about how the government treats its people. Women who work in Georgia’s film industry — many of them visiting from other states — need access to safe and legal reproductive care, including their constitutional right to an abortion. HB 481 takes that right away, forcing women to risk losing their jobs.
Thousands of actors and film crew members converge on Georgia every year, and we hope to continue to do so. But we require a safe working environment with respect, tolerance, and love. All artists, especially women, must feel welcome.
To Georgia’s leaders: You have worked hard to showcase your state and bring in filming projects that have had a multiplier impact on your state’s economy, but these projects are not a given. I urge you to think hard before making Georgia a state that is not welcoming of women. I urge you to defeat HB 481 and continue to be “The Hollywood of the South.”