Actress Sophia Bush of One Tree Hill comes to campus to encourage young people to vote


Colin Boyle / Daily Senior Staffer

Sophia Bush speaks at a Planned Parenthood Generation Action NU event. The actress and activist spoke to attendees about the importance of their voting power.

Gabby Birenbaum, Web Editor

As an unapologetically independent, fun-loving and sexually active character on the popular teen drama “One Tree Hill,” Brooke Davis showed viewers how to overcome stereotypes and be their best selves.

On Monday, the actress who played her spoke on campus to encourage young people to vote in the November midterm elections.

Sophia Bush spoke about the importance of voter registration and reproductive rights at an event hosted by Planned Parenthood Generation Action NU and When We All Vote, a nonpartisan nonprofit promoting voter turnout, in Norris University Center.

Bush, an Illinois resident from her time playing Erin Lindsay on NBC’s “Chicago P.D.,” urged the group of around 70 to vote in the upcoming midterm elections. After voting earlier in the day in Chicago, Bush said Illinois’ relatively friendly voter laws make people’s excuses for not voting inadequate.

“This idea that you can just not vote, that you just don’t have to pick — that’s an idea of privilege,” Bush said. “Assuming that you don’t have to actively participate in your society is really disrespectful to the people whose lives are on the line whose worlds your participation, or lack thereof, effects.”

Though the event was nonpartisan, Bush — who said that anyone who follows her on social media would know she is liberal — urged attendees to vote blue down the ballot. As someone with conservative family members, Bush also noted it can be beneficial to start political dialogues from a point of agreement rather than opening with a divisive issue.

Erin Hannigan, a representative from When We All Vote, moderated the conversation. She said having tough discussions with people about politics is part of the effort to encourage everyone to vote.

“There’s a lot of folks in the room, including myself, who have challenging conversations with friends and family about a lot of things related to voting,” Hannigan said.

On reproductive rights, Bush said the conversation around supporting Planned Parenthood should encompass more than just abortion. The majority of Planned Parenthood’s services don’t involve abortion, and framing the debate around it ignores other consequences of defunding the organization, including access to birth control and health care for women.

Bush, who is very critical of President Donald Trump on social media, framed much of the conversation on voting around social media. She said it is “meaningless” to post photos from marches or rallies without voting.

With 3.2 million followers on Instagram and 1.3 million followers on Twitter, Bush has a large platform of influence. With such a large following comes a responsibility for educated activism, she said.

“I would never be able to sleep at night if I just did the easy, popular, sunshine-y thing on social media, because then what am I talking to people for?” Bush said. “Nobody wants to see avocado toast as often as I eat it.”

Planned Parenthood Generation Action NU co-president and SESP senior Eliza Beth told The Daily she was “super excited” to hear Bush speak. As a “One Tree Hill” fan, the SESP senior said Bush is a fantastic actress with a great message.

As a new club on campus, Beth said bringing Bush in helped them establish a profile on campus, one of their goals for the quarter.

“Sophia Bush is almost our age,” Beth said. “She’s a woman. She’s dynamic and powerful and exciting, and so having a speaker like her just feels really relevantant and really meaningful. It feels like I can really connect to her and what she stands for.”

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