Piper Perabo: ‘I Don’t Want To Be an Actress in a Dictatorship. I’d Rather Be a Waitress in a Democracy’

Piper Perabo, Actor and activist, speaks during the 6th Annual Women Rule Summit at a hotel in Washington, DC on December 11, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Actress Piper Perabo and her left-wing political activism, which kicked off with the election of Donald Trump, is the subject of a fawning feature at the left-wing outlet Slate.

Writer Christina Cauterucci is full of praise and some rather backhanded adulation for the Coyote Ugly star who suddenly jumped into the left’s spotlight during the confirmation hearing for now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who the left lined up to destroy.

Perabo became an instant leftist hero when she tweeted out that she had been arrested for “civil disobedience” during one of Kavanaugh’s Senate hearings.

Cauterucci found herself fascinated by this woman.

“I was left with a few lingering questions: What was she doing at the Kavanaugh hearing? Why did she feel compelled to get herself arrested? And who is Piper Perabo, again?” Cauterucci wrote.

Cauterucci may not be alone. After all, the 42-year-old Perabo has not necessarily had a high-profile acting career. At a young age, she won the lead role in the bar film, Coyote Ugly, then, a decade later, she won the leading role in the USA Network drama, Covert Affairs. She also appeared in a supporting role in several of comedy star Steve Martin’s Cheaper by the Dozen films and is now starring in the newly released Angel Has Fallen. Perabo has enjoyed a steady, successful acting career, certainly, yet has never played in any of the big films that would make most casual viewers stand up and take notice.

Then came the election of Donald Trump and the subsequent Supreme Court fight over Kavanaugh. Now Perabo is, as Cauterucci defines her, a “resistance celebrity.”

Cauterucci noted that many of the left’s favorite “resistance celebrities” have been spouting off about politics for years. But others are new to the discussion:

But many, like Perabo, are brand-new to the scene, having been galvanized by the #MeToo movement, appalled by Trump’s rise, and horrorstruck by the administration’s daily violations of human rights and democratic norms. “I grew up thinking most people get arrested because they made a bad choice,” Perabo wrote in an essay about her arrest at the Kavanaugh hearing. “But these days everything feels upside down. … I got arrested for what I believe in: justice.”

Perabo is one of those nuevo activists:

Three years ago, Perabo told me, she’d never been to a protest and couldn’t have named her representative in Congress. She dates her political awakening to Oct. 7, 2016. Perabo was folding laundry when she heard the Access Hollywood tape: the boasting, Billy Bush’s laughing, “grab ’em by the pussy.” When she left her house that day, she says, “I was just walking down the street thinking, Wait, do you all think that you’re allowed to grab us? And it’s funny? I really felt like, Am I so naïve that I don’t know the country I’m living in? And the answer was kind of—yes.”

Perabo insisted that she “listened for a year” and then decided that she was expert enough to hold forth on an array of political topic suitable for sparking liberal outrage on Twitter.

During that year of listening, Perabo told the writer that she listened to leftist podcasts like “Pod Save America” and “jotted down” all the things she had never heard of like DOJ and DHS.

Perabo also proudly noted that Twitter was her teacher. She began following leftist Twitter accounts to help her learn about politics, she said. “If you can teach me something that shocking that I don’t know about my own country, I know how much smarter you are than me. So now I’m gonna follow you,” Perabo told the outlet.

“Then I’ll go and look up—’Why did she say bodily autonomy?'” Perabo ruminated, “Is that a word in the movement?’ And then I go home and do my reading.”

Perabo congratulated herself that all it took was a year of “doing her reading” and she was set.

But Cauterucci also noted the artifice in Perabo’s sudden political activism. The writer found the actress at an event at the Four Seasons Hotel in D.C. where Perabo was speaking. And speaking there she took on the demeanor of a common-sense centrist. But off stage, she quite easily lapsed right into her extremist, left-wing rants.

Onstage, Perabo mostly tailored her tone and message to the summit’s bipartisan vibe. She was smiling and full of energy, with calls to action aplenty. She asked attendees to support two pieces of common-sense legislation: the Equal Rights Amendment and the now-expired Violence Against Women Act. “There are so many smart people in here,” she said, encouraging the women in the audience to write more op-eds for their local papers.

Offstage, she adopted a different tone. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, then Trump’s press secretary, was up next, in conversation with a Politico reporter. When a few of Perabo’s acquaintances came over to commiserate after the Sanders interview, Perabo told them she could barely bring herself to watch. “This is a fucking softball interview. You’re asking about her kids?” she said in a furious whisper, trying not to attract attention. “I’m not here to listen to you answer questions about ‘You know how I get through it? With a lot of coffee and my husband’s real supportive of me!’ Don’t try to relate to me. You take away people’s press passes? You took away the freedom of the press? You’re trying to lie for him? Go fuck yourself. How are you gonna explain this to your daughters?”

Then there were the hard-left activists that have swung into the Hollywooder’s orbit. Cauterucci reported the intensely close relationship that Perabo has with extreme gender activist Mónica Ramírez.

Ramírez remembers a turning point in their relationship when they got to talking at a meeting for VoteRunLead, a group that trains women to run for office. (Perabo serves on its advisory board.) When Ramírez had to leave to give a sexual harassment training, Perabo offered to take her so they could continue their conversation in the car. Since then, they’ve worked together on a bunch of campaigns: opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination, advocating for equal pay, appearing in a Southern Poverty Law Center video on “Ten Ways to Fight Hate.”

Even Ramírez noted how “new” Perabo’s activism is.

“We’re figuring out how we lend each other our power, and when — and in some ways, we have to dance a little bit to figure out what feels right,” Ramírez told Slate. “It’s a new thing. I’ve been an organizer since I was a young kid, and I don’t ever remember it looking like this.”

In the end, now that she has reached her 40s, Perabo says she doesn’t “give a fuck” what people think.

“I told Perabo I thought it was great that she’d decided to use her power that way,” Cauterucci wrote.

“I’m in my 40s, and somebody told me the cool thing about getting into your 40s is you have less fucks left to give,” Perabo replied. “Thirty is good because you start to know who you are. And when you’re 40 — now you start to tell everybody else.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.


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