Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) attended the star-studded premiere of HBO’s upcoming film Confirmation on Thursday night, where she credited one of the film’s main characters, Anita Hill, for getting her elected to the Senate during the so-called Year of the Woman in 1992.
Confirmation, debuting April 16 on the premium cable network, explores the explosive 1991 confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whom Hill accused of sexually harassing her while he was her boss at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Boxer, Hill and actress Kerry Washington, who plays Hill in the film, were all present at the premiere at the Paramount lot in Los Angeles on Thursday.
“If it wasn’t for Anita Hill, I would not have won my Senate race. We got elected by this woman’s courage,” Boxer told Variety at the event, referring to the fact that four women, including fellow California senator Dianne Feinstein, were elected to the Senate the year following the contentious hearings in what became known as the “Year of the Woman.”
“To me, I think the overwhelming power of the film is just how much courage it took her to stick with it,” Boxer added. “The taunting, the way she was treated by my colleagues in the Senate. You are a woman scorned. What is that about? And her treatment was so terrible and it was brought out in the film.”
Boxer reportedly appears in the film (played by actress Natalie Karp) as being part of a group of female lawmakers who pressured the Judiciary Committee to re-open Thomas’ confirmation hearings.
Republican lawmakers involved in the 1991 hearings have lashed out at the film over its portrayal of events, with some claiming HBO is using the film’s release just months before the presidential election to score political points.
Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson — a Republican who played a key role in Thomas’ eventual confirmation — penned a scathing letter to the filmmakers last year in which he blasted what he called the film’s inaccuracies. Of particular concern to Simpson is the film’s depiction of Angela Wright, another EEOC employee who was set to testify that Thomas had sexually harassed her too before ultimately bowing out. Simpson maintains that, contrary to what the film shows, it was Democrats who pressured Wright not to testify.
“HBO says Angela Wright is the great second coming who we wouldn’t allow to testify, but she was plenty flawed,” Simpson told the Hollywood Reporter in an interview this week. “Clarence fired her because she called a co-worker a ‘f—t.’ She wanted revenge. I thought, ‘bring her on. I’d love to cross-examine her.’ It was Democrats on Anita Hill’s side who didn’t want her. That’s the irony. Republicans were waiting with baited breath, and her people knew it.”
At the premiere, Boxer said that Simpson “is living in a dream world where men ran everything.”
“Wake up. You don’t run everything anymore,” she said, according to Variety. “I am sorry [he is] sad. But women have a right to be heard… All she wanted to do was tell the truth. She had nothing to gain. She wanted nothing other than to protect the women of this country from predators like that.”
Confirmation is directed by Rick Famuyiwa (Dope) off of a script from Oscar nominee Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich). The film stars Wendell Pierce as Clarence Thomas, Greg Kinnear as Joe Biden and Jennifer Hudson and Angela Wright.