Agit-queen Jane Fonda has never shied away from controversial subjects, from speaking out against the Vietnam War to getting arrested during her Fire Drill Friday climate change protests. Now she’s lending her face to the burgeoning green (bud) cause, too.
Fonda has signed on to be the newest ambassador for Los Angeles-based hemp and CBD personal-care brand Uncle Bud’s. The announcement was made via (what else?) a dance video filmed during lockdown and posted to her 1.3 million Instagram followers, featuring three of her favorite products. There’s an activism angle as well: Uncle Bud’s will donate 1,000 units of its Hemp Hand Sanitizer to L.A. homeless outreach program Safe Place for Youth on behalf of Fonda, and an additional unit for each repost and tag accrued over 48 hours following the initial post.
“Jane is iconic and she touches many areas we are in, from pain relief to beauty, and she’s an activist and hemp is a green product,” said Uncle Bud’s cofounder Bruno Schiavi, who has had his own colorful history in the industry, including launching the Nineties-era PocketSock, the Kardashian Kollection, and taking Uncle Bud’s from single product to multimillion-dollar, 72-sku mass-market brand in 18 months, with pain cream, eye serum, lip balm, dog shampoo and more.
The brand, which is also linked to Toni Braxton, had planned to launch hand sanitizer in October but rolled it out in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We had to pivot,” said Schiavi, noting that they also had to scrap a photo shoot planned with Fonda, asking her to film her own launch announcement at home instead.
Even though production of the seventh and final season of her Netflix hit “Grace & Frankie” has been sidelined, Fonda has been keeping busy during the pandemic. For one, the 82-year-old has become a TikTok sensation, donning her famed red protest coat and various tracksuits while hard at work on her now-virtual Fire Drill Fridays, which have featured everyone from costar Lily Tomlin to Sen. Elizabeth Warren. She’s also brought back her Eighties workouts to raise awareness for the movement.
While in quarantine in L.A., Fonda spoke with WWD about her CBD habits, keeping the activist flame alive, and what she can’t wait to get back to.
WWD: You’ve been a beacon of activity — and activism — during the quarantine. What is keeping you going?
Jane Fonda: I’m doing my best. Humanity is at a unique crossroads in history and we need to define what’s happening and make sure the right people are controlling how it turns out, so I feel very motivated to do what I can.
WWD: Do you feel like COVID-19 will bring more awareness to the climate change cause or will governments, corporations and people be too strained to care?
J.F.: I don’t think they will care less because the climate crisis won’t allow them to. As extreme weather events increase, as the appearance of pandemics increase, which they will because of the climate crisis, I think people are going to care more. Also the fact that the air is clearer, more animals are visible, and people can breathe is making them think, “oh, it is caused by humans and if we do less bad stuff like using fossil fuels and driving fossil-fuel-run cars, things will get better.” So I’m optimistic…17,000 people had signed up to do Fire Drill Fridays where they live around the country, so it was important to keep that momentum and we have. This is a critical time and how this [federal government] stimulus money is spent is going to determine how prepared we are coming out of this to face the next crisis, which is the climate crisis. I’m just looking forward to when we can do it in person and shut things down when it becomes necessary.
WWD: And go to jail again?
J.F.: Well, yeah!
WWD: Switching gears from activism to activity, what do you think about your workouts finding a new fan base?
J.F.: Well, I think it’s good. They work.
WWD: What’s the best move if you are sitting at home using a dining room table as a desk? (Asking for myself!)
J.F.: You have to be really careful how your head is positioned; your head is really heavy and it has to be positioned right on top of your neck, which is right on top of your shoulders or you are going to get in trouble.
WWD: And you need hemp cream! Speaking of stress relievers, you have smoked marijuana since, I’m guessing, the Sixties, right? Do you still?
J.F.: I use a pen that limits how many doses you get, which is way better than taking sleeping pills.…But I was never majorly into pot to tell you the truth. However, I have osteoarthritis, so things that help with pain and inflammation are good. I have relatives who are elderly and I have sent them these products and they have really made a difference for them. Then I have indigenous friends who grow industrial hemp, and I’m learning a lot about hemp as a viable economic sector we need to foster. I found out recently, for example, that Henry Ford made a car out of industrial hemp fiber, and there’s something on YouTube that shows a guy with a sledge hammer trying to make a dent in this hemp fiber car, and he couldn’t. So it was a hemp fiber car that couldn’t be dented that ran on hemp oil!
WWD: Why hook up with Uncle Bud’s?
J.F.: They reached out to me thinking the alignment between them and me made sense. I wasn’t so sure in the beginning. Then I tried the products out for a few months, and I really like ’em. I like the skin creams, I like the aching muscle creams, I like the lip balm, I like the hand sanitizers, I like the fact they were giving free hand sanitizers to a homeless youth organization. And I think they work. If it wasn’t a U.S.-made product and eco-friendly and animal-kind, I wouldn’t have gone near them.
WWD: Has your environmental activism affected how you look at fashion brands, too?
J.F.: When I realized that consumerism was out of control and too many people’s identities were being formed by shopping, I vowed that I would never buy another new piece of clothing and I haven’t for eight months and I will never again.…I am wearing my own clothes; I haven’t changed weight, so I thought, I’m not going to buy anything again. I wore an Oscars dress I had worn five years earlier. Getting rid of single-use plastics is another thing I’m really happy about; there is really good cling wrap made out of vegetables, there’s all kinds of products that are biodegradable.
WWD: And all kinds of things made out of hemp.
J.F.: I have clothes made out of hemp that I got years ago.
WWD: Have you picked up any new quarantine habits you hope you don’t lose?
J.F.: I had never done one before, but I really like doing Zoom meetings, and that’s something I am going to try to do more of instead of traveling all over the place.
WWD: What’s the first thing you want to do after the stay-at-home order lifts?
J.F.: Hug my new grandchild! He’s 10 months old.