How Actor Matt McGorry Became an Advocate for Gender Equality on Social Media

Plus, the activists he considers must-follows

Headshot of Emma Bazilian


Name Matt McGorry

Age 30

Claim to fame Stars as Asher Millstone on ABC's How to Get Away With Murder (Thursdays, 10 p.m.); played John Bennett on Netflix's Orange Is the New Black

Base Los Angeles

Twitter @mattmcgorry

Adweek: What's the first information you consume in the morning?

Matt McGorry: The first information in the morning would be checking my text messages while doing my best not to check social media while I'm still in bed. If I do, I try to make sure it's Instagram because it's less likely that I'm going to get sucked into something on there than on Twitter or Facebook. I think the next step for me is going to be getting the phone out of my bedroom entirely.

You post a lot on social media about your activism around gender equality and feminism. How did you become involved in that?

It really started when I had to read Lean In for an article that I was going to be a part of for Cosmopolitan. It was the first time that I sat down and absorbed a lot of the issues that I'll just never have to deal with, rather than just hearing stories about sexism here and there. I also think that, understandably, a lot of women don't go to their guy friends to talk about this stuff because they think—rightfully in many cases—that we're going to underplay it or not understand it. I didn't realize how shielded I was by all of my privilege [laughs].

I'm sure you get a lot of strong opinions from people on social media. How do you handle that?

I figured that was something I'd have to deal with. I think that it just comes with the territory. What's more difficult to deal with is people who generally believe in the same things that I believe in but don't like the way I'm talking about it. I try to take those instances and learn from them when I can, basically.

Who are your favorite people to follow?

I love following DeRay Mckesson. He tweets a lot about race issues in America. Shaun King as well. Franchesca Ramsey does great stuff about feminism and race. I know I'm sounding like a broken record, but that's kind of what I use social media for now. There was a point not that long ago when it was more about how do I use to entertain and be funny, but once I started to delve into these issues, I realized there was a lot that I was missing out on. And I sort of reformulated my purpose.

What's on your reading list?

I just finished a really incredible book called Under the Affluence by Tim Wise. It's all about economic disparity in America. I'm about to finish Sex Object by Jessica Valenti. It's a really incredible memoir. And then I'm going to be starting The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King.

What TV shows do you watch?

I know this is sort of a strange goal to have, but I've been trying to watch more TV. I think the last show I finished was actually the last season of How to Get Away With Murder [laughs]. I don't watch it when we're airing—I find that it's a little too distracting to watch what I'm doing onscreen and then go into work the next day and think about a weird face that I was making—so I like to do the show in a vacuum and then enjoy it afterwards. I'm really excited for The Walking Dead to come back, though. It's one of the few shows I've kept up with really consistently. It provides a little bit of escapism just because it's so out of the realm of any real-life issues. Although if Trump gets elected, I wouldn't be surprised if a zombie apocalypse really did happen.

This story first appeared in the October 10, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.

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@adweekemma Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.