"I Refuse To Accept The Status Quo" — Amber Heard on Using Your Voice For Change

When actor and activist Amber Heard took the stage with I Am A Voter founder Mandana Dayani for last weekend’s New York conference keynote, we knew we were in for a powerful, enlightening conversation. But Amber delivered so much more than that, speaking passionately about her activism in a way that got us all amped up to create real change in the world. We left her keynote feeling inspired, empowered, and unafraid—and you will, too, after reading what she had to say below.

On her activism…

”It’s one thing to talk about food deserts or unlivable wages or cyclical poverty, but to see face-to-face the people that are affected by the consequences of these institutions is a whole other thing. It taught me that there’s an element of these conditions that was lost on me as a relatively privileged white kid who could get food if I needed it. The flaw is in the institutions, and not a character flaw.”

“If one person’s human rights can be violated, it means all our rights can be violated. We live in an unfair, unjust world—the same tragedies that can happen to others can happen to you. I am in a position where I can amplify voices and raise awareness for people who are forgotten. I can’t think of a more important thing to fight for than our basic human rights and right to health.”

On the importance of voting…

“If you like the way things are right now, if you’re happy earning 60 cents to the dollar, if you’re happy with how that will play out, then don’t do anything. But if you want to see things change, then break it open.”

“If you’re quiet, you’ll be ignored.”

“I refuse to accept the status quo. I refuse to stand in line.”

On using your voice for change…

“The world that’s better for someone else is going to be an inherently better world for you.”

“I want to be on the right side of history and change.”

“What I’ve learned is that at the end of the day, I’m proud of my movies, sure; but that’s nothing in comparison to the things I’ve stood up for because they were right and true—and I did it despite what it cost me. It has always made an impact, and it has always upset people.”

”Only the people who benefit from the status quo don’t want to change it.”

“Policy can’t be just wrapped up in political debates. Basic needs are universal.”

“When someone puts you in a box, change what the walls of the box are made out of.”

We’re a generation of daughters of equality. We’ve inherited too much to accept anything less than that—it’s our burden to push it forward.

On the patriarchy…

“Why is it my responsibility for boys and men to treat me with the respect that I deserve? Why is it my job?”

“We see these really narrow archetypes of ourselves [as women] in media. We don’t get to see real representations because we haven’t been behind the camera telling those stories.”

“We’re a generation of daughters of equality. We’ve inherited too much to accept anything less than that—it’s our burden to push it forward.”

“Visibility is crucial. That’s what we’ve seen in the wake of these social movements, that the value is in the voice, the connection we form when we hear other people say, Yes, me too.”

“We’re saying, ‘We’re loud, we’re here, and we want to change the world’ to respect and believe survivors and push the conversations even further.”

“We are a part of a vast army of voices that are not accepting silence.”

On creating a legacy…

“One day, someone other than you who hasn’t had the privilege to be able to speak out is going to be affected by the positive change that you make. You just have to choose: Which side of history do you want to be on?”