Scarlett Johansson urged young Americans to vote in her speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, September 6.
"It's an honor to be here tonight. I speak to you not as a representative of young Hollywood, but as a representative of the many millions of young Americans, particularly young women, who depend on public and nonprofit programs to help them survive," Johansson said on stage, before President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden accepted the party's nominations.
"I grew up in New York City with four siblings. My father barely made enough to get by," the 27-year-old actress continued. "We moved every year, and we finally settled in a housing development for lower middle income families. We went to public schools and depended on programs for school transport and lunches, as did most of my friends. My girlfriends from high school to this day still depend on Planned Parenthood and often Medicaid for important health care services."
The Golden Globe-nominated actress noted that only half of all eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 24 voted in 2008 and urged young Americans to go to commit.BarackObama.com to register and find polling locations.
"When I was a little girl, my mother - a registered Democrat - would take me into the polling booth, and tell me which buttons to press and when to pull the lever. Is that even legal? I remember the excitement I felt in that secret box, and feeling like my mom's vote wasn't just about the candidate, it was about our family - and all the families just like ours."
"This last election, I finally got to punch those buttons for me, for real," the actress said. I wore my 'I voted' pin the whole day. It was my finest accessory. And this year, on November 6th, I'm filled with that same enthusiasm, that same pride, to press the button to reelect President Barack Obama!"
Johansson donated $14,000 to the president's 2012 re-election campaign and also co-hosted a fashion-themed fundraiser for it with Vogue magazine Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour in February. In 2008, she donated more than $2,000 to Obama and the two also corresponded via email. She has also expressed support for First Lady Michelle Obama's anti-childhood obesity program, via a public letter sent to a congressman.
Kerry Washington also spoke at the convention, describing herself as "a granddaughter of Ellis Island immigrants, a person who could not have afforded college without the help of student loans.""So many struggled so that all of us could have a voice in this great democracy and live up to the first three words of our constitution: We the people. I love that phrase so much," Washington said. "Throughout our country's history, we've expanded the meaning of that phrase to include more and more of us. That's what it means to move forward. And that's what this election is all about."
Johansson's spokesperson confirmed the actress' participation to OTRC.com earlier in the day. It was also reported that Natalie Portman would speak, though her rep did not confirm.
Former "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria, a Texas-born Mexican-American who is a national co-chair of Obama's reelection campaign, also spoke at the DNC.
"Let me tell you something, the Eva Longoria who worked at Wendy's flipping burgers, she needed a tax break but the Eva Longoria who works on movie set does not," the actress said, referring to Mitt Romney's proposed tax breaks for the wealthy. "As I travel the country for the President, I see Americans of every background fighting to succeed. They're optimistic, they're ambitious, they're hardworking but they also want to know that their hard work will pay off... We're lucky that our President understands the value of American opportunity because he's lived it."
"Harold & Kumar" actor Kal Penn, who is also a co-chair with Longoria, spoke at the convention on Tuesday. The actor left his role on the FOX show "House" to serve as the associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement from 2009 to 2011.