Mila Kunis Pressured Harvard's All-Male Comedic Theater Troupe Into Accepting Female Performers

Mila Kunis attends Hasty Pudding Theatricals
Mila Kunis attends Hasty Pudding Theatricals / Getty Images
February 8, 2018

Actress Mila Kunis personally appealed to Harvard University’s historically all-male comedic theater troupe to go co-ed ahead of the group making that announcement, the Crimson reported.

Kunis phoned at least one member of the Hasty Pudding Institute’s graduate board while in Cambridge on Jan. 25 to accept the company’s Woman of the Year award.

During the call, made while out dining with Pudding members, Kunis "implied she would apply pressure" to the nearly 200-year-old group to begin accepting female performers, according to the Crimson.

Hours later, Pudding student president Amira Weeks announced women would be considered for casting beginning in fall 2018.

According to the Crimson, Pudding members had no knowledge of the impending announcement while meeting with Kunis ahead of the Woman of the Year ceremony, though when Weeks later debuted the policy shift, she read aloud from a letter by former Pudding President Andrew Farkas maintaining the decision had been made "some time ago."

The change was purposely kept secret until the unveiling at last month’s award celebrations, according to the Farkas letter.

Kunis indicated at press conference that day that she was aware of the policy change in advance.

"I wouldn’t be here otherwise," she said at a press conference.

Feminists on campus and in national op-eds had pressured Kunis to turn down the award, but Kunis shut down those urging a boycott by saying, "Backing down is not taking a stance."

Women have long been permitted to hold behind-the-scenes jobs on the writing, business, and technical staff—in fact, about half of the students in the group are women, including the current president—but they had been banned from the stage since the group’s founding in 1795.

Hasty Pudding’s bawdy shows have instead featured men in drag, as in the Shakespearean era, in portrayals of women that some have criticized as sexist.

In recent years, women had taken to auditioning for the comedic revues as a form of protest.

Hasty Pudding’s policy change comes as Harvard has sanctioned single-gender final clubs, banning members from holding campus leadership roles, though the theater group is not categorized as a social group and isn’t subject to those regulations.