EXCLUSIVE: Kathy Griffin on being blacklisted in Hollywood over Donald Trump photo scandal

MEAWW spoke exclusively to Kathy Griffin at the Byron Allen Oscar viewing party about how this past year has both devastated and helped her career


                            EXCLUSIVE: Kathy Griffin on being blacklisted in Hollywood over Donald Trump photo scandal

Last weekend at the Byron Allen Oscar viewing party in Beverly Hills, MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) had to opportunity to speak with comedian and now activist Kathy Griffin about what was one of the worst almost two years of her life.  To recap, on May 30th, 2017 a photograph was released of Griffin holding an effigy of a bloody and decapitated Donald Trump head.  Backlash quickly ensued and she was abandoned by friends, blacklisted in Hollywood, was terrorized with death threats and was targeted by federal agents on whether she should be charged with conspiracy to assassinate the president of the United States or not. Since then her life and career crumbled before her very eyes, and while Griffin likely wishes she never took the infamous photo, the lengths people have gone to attack and destroy her have been absolutely ludicrous. Griffin opened up about what these past two years have been like for her, and through it all, she still doesn’t regret making her voice heard and standing up for what she believes in.

“I’m still blacklisted in Hollywood so it’s been this real struggle. With the Trump photo, I mean I was under a two-month federal investigation, I never had the chance to not be investigated, they just opened a file on me. So from the beginning, I knew that I had to speak out about this, because if this happened to me it could happen to anyone and it has happened to other people after me.  But, I am still the first person in the history of a country to have a standing United States president choose a private citizen, much less a female comedian, and as the Trump family would say try to ‘decimate’ her.”

Jokes aside, these turn of events certainly did damage Griffin’s career in Hollywood, not to mention the emotional repercussions of being attacked and threatened regularly.  That said, after some of the hype around the incident died down, her career has in fact taken a more positive turn, going in a direction that she never thought it would go.  No, her career will never be the same and things are still incredibly difficult for her in Hollywood, but all in all…things are looking up.

EQCA Honoree Kathy Griffin speaks onstage at the Equality California 2018 Los Angeles Equality Awards at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE on September 29, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Equality California)
EQCA Honoree Kathy Griffin speaks onstage at the Equality California 2018 Los Angeles Equality Awards at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE on September 29, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Equality California)

“I had to change my whole business model but I just went on my first world tour, so that picture that almost took me down actually made me global. And one thing that I realized was that even the president can’t stop people from buying tickets. I also made a special, which nobody in Hollywood will even buy or take my call, so I decided to make it into a feature and it will be premiering at South By South West. I’m really excited too because I also started doing speeches about the fist amendment.”

While Griffin’s story is certainly a cautionary tale, it has made her more passionate about speaking up than ever before. It takes a lot of courage and bravery to fight back and try to continue pursuing her career amid all of the hate, threats and backlash.  She not only wants to stand up for herself but for other people whose voices are not being heard. Griffin wants to be remembered as a woman who stood up for what she believed in, not one that backed down out of fear.

“I think you have to speak up. I had to speak up because I really didn’t have a choice.  I’m 58 years old, so I just kept thinking that when I kick the bucket, somebody is going to look up my story and I don’t want any person to see that they were able to take that old red haired you know what down. So that’s been my first job, to just stay standing so people can see that you can survive this.”

Kathy Griffin speaks onstage during Politicon 2018 at Los Angeles Convention Center on October 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Politicon)
Kathy Griffin speaks onstage during Politicon 2018 at Los Angeles Convention Center on October 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Politicon)

Griffin surely is a force to be reckoned with, and whether you agree with her politics or not, there is most definitely something to be said about her perseverance and courage. No matter how many times people tell Griffin no or threaten her, she will always stand strong and fight for her rights and the rights of anyone else being oppressed.  Take it or leave it, that is simply who Griffin is, unapologetic, gutsy and brave.

To watch the full interview, see the video below.