Jane Fonda: 'To be a revolutionary you have to be a human being'

Legendary performer, writer, activist and Academy Award winner Jane Fonda is sharing her life story in an intimate evening that's not to be missed.
Jane Fonda: 'To be a revolutionary you have to be a human being'

Jane Fonda at the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2015 in Cannes, France. Shutterstock.

‘It's not having experiences that makes us wise,’ said Jane Fonda at TEDxWOMEN in 2011. ‘It's reflecting on the experiences that we've had that makes us wise, and that helps us become whole, brings wisdom and authenticity. It helps us become what we might have been.’

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Acclaimed for her work on stage and screen, and lauded as a warrior for people’s rights, Fonda’s fiercely creative spirit has seen her career span across six decades. This August, Fonda is traveling to Australia and New Zealand to give insights into her incredible life in an intimate evening with the audience.

Learn more about An Evening with Jane Fonda.

Recipient of two Academy Awards, two BAFTA Awards, and four Golden Globes, Lady Jane Seymour Fonda was born on 21 December 1937 to parents Henry Fonda and Frances Ford Seymour Brokaw.

Born in the shadow of her famous father, a Broadway sensation and Hollywood royalty, the young Jane Fonda discovered her own creative talents and began her career in the 1960 Broadway play, There Was a Little Girl. Fonda will touch on her relationship with her father in the upcoming, intimate show.

Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda in 9 to 5 (1980). Image © 20th Century Fox.

Following the tragic death of her mother, Fonda had a tumultuous relationship with her father in subsequent years.  ‘Sitting by my father’s bedside as he were dying, he wouldn’t say anything,’ Fonda said in an episode of Belief for the Oprah Winfrey Network.

‘I wanted him to tell me he loved me, and I wanted to ask him questions. And I knelt at his feet and looked at him. And I said, I told him that I loved him and I knew he had done the best that he could … I do know that he is with me.

‘Whether we like to know it or not we are made of millions of molecules that come from the stars. We are all a part of everything. We are energy, and I feel his energy. How lucky can one person be? I feel so lucky,’ she said.

Fonda would go on to forge a unique and at times controversial career. She has starred in over 50 screen projects, including Oscar winning roles in Klute (1971) and Coming Home (1978) and most recently Netflix’s Grace and Frankie (2015-current), but her career is not defined by her pages-long filmography.

She has worked behind the scenes in the screen industry, with a sequel to the cult classic 9 to 5, on which she is executive producer, recently greenlit. Fonda is also famous for bringing exercise into the living rooms of many homes with her workout videos, first launched in 1982.

It is evident Fonda’s lived experiences has shaped her philosophical outlook. 'To be a revolutionary you have to be a human being. You have to care about people who have no power,' she said in an interview for Newsweek Magazine in 1977.

Fonda’s compassionate nature is exemplified by her tireless work campaigning against the US’s involvement in consecutive wars; her work for women’s rights; her advocacy for marginalised peoples, and her environmental activism.

Jane Fonda. Photo by Matteo Chinellato.

In a recent speech at the United State of Women’s Conference, Los Angeles, she said: ‘I’ve been involved with progressive movements most of my adult life, but because I’m white, the lens through which I had been looking at race was too shallow.

‘So I’m studying. It takes more than empathy, it requires intention to even begin to comprehend what people of color, no matter their class, face every moment of every day, and how much privilege, quite unconsciously, is enjoyed by those of us born white – even the poorest of us.’ 

Meet Jane Fonda in this exclusive tour, which begins in August. Fonda will share her memories, and the life lessons she has learned, with audiences in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland. This tour is not to be missed.

AN EVENING WITH JANE FONDA: 27 August Sydney Opera House; 28 August Hamer Hall, Art Centre Melbourne, and 30 August ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland. To learn more visit: janefondatour.com

About the author

Andrea Simpson is ArtsHub's Feature Writer and Reviews Editor. Andrea is a Filipino-Australian writer with a love for diverse Australian stories. She is curious about all forms of art, though she has an especially keen interest in the publishing sector.

Andrea has had short stories published in various anthologies, and is currently working on her first novel.  

You can follow Andrea on Instagram @andi_jayyy