Diane Ladd

My 5 Minutes with the President

Three-time Oscar and Emmy-award nominee Diane Ladd currently plays mother to her real-life daughter Laura Dern in the HBO series “Enlightened.” After appearances on multiple television shows throughout the 1960s, Ladd landed her breakthrough role in Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown.” That same year, she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.” Inspired by the film, the hit television series “Alice” was created, with Ladd playing a starring role.

Ladd went on to have prominent roles in many films, including “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” “Christmas Vacation,” “Citizen Ruth,” “Ghosts of Mississippi,” “Primary Colors,” “28 Days” and “The World’s Fastest Indian.” He performances in “Rambling Rose” and “Wild at Heart” earned her two more Best Supporting Actress nominations. Diane was also nominated for three Emmys for her guest roles in the television series “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” “Grace Under Fire” and “Touched by an Angel.”

Born in Mississippi, Ladd comes from a family of artists; her mother was an actress, and her cousins include playwright Tennessee Williams and poet Sidney Lanier. A longtime activist, Ladd will be in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday introducing “Cut, Poison and Burn,” a documentary that examines the business of cancer treatment. 

ROBIN BRONK: If you had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, what would you discuss with him? What issue would you like him to know about?

DIANE LADD: The first issue that I would bring up is that I would again ask him why my country is still allowing so many runaway productions that are raping money from the United States. Money that we need, and instead are putting it in other countries’ pockets. We are still losing approximately $2 billion a year to runaway film and television productions. 

We only have one runaway production tax incentive here in the U.S., and you are talking to the girl that helped get that passed. I spent $60,000 of my own money and made 17 visits to Washington to help get that passed. A bill was finally passed with the help of 14 congressional representatives, including the late Congresswoman Karen McCarthy. Canada has almost 14 tax incentives — Spain, China, they too also have big tax incentives. And look at us — a shame, because show business is one of America’s No. 1 businesses. 

When are we going to grow up and claim our power and bring films home? I have had to film in Canada eight times. So, President Obama, bring my business, the great entertainment business, home. And make the congressmen and senators give us some desperately needed tax incentives. 

RB: If you could ask President Obama one question, what would that be?

DL: How are we going to save my country? The systems are broken. How do we stop the greed and the selfishness and put joy back into people? 

RB: What piece of advice would you give President Obama on the campaign trail?

DL: Find a way to get a lot of money into a lot of people’s pockets right away, so that they all love you when you step on the stage. And number two, smile a lot. Also, if there are promises you haven’t kept, you better explain them. 

RB: If you were going to send the president to one of your favorite places in the United States for one day, where would that be? Why?

DL: It would be down south, and it would probably be to New Orleans. At least they will say, “Sit down and have something to eat,” and hug ya. They will hug you and feed you. 

RB: What CD/piece of music would you recommend that President Obama add to his collection? Why?

DL: “You Are My Sunshine.” Everybody loves that song and it makes us happy — it’s a happy song. 

RB: Would you ever consider a political career?

DL: Believe it or not, I’ve been offered it. There have been people who have said they’d back my whole career. And I told them that I’m a pain in the a--. And they said it’s the pains in the a--es that keep the world livable for the rest of us. But I’m busy enough with show business, and I’m wearing too many hats right now.

Robin Bronk is CEO of The Creative Coalition — the leading national, nonprofit, nonpartisan public advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Bronk is a frequent speaker on the role of the entertainment industry in public advocacy campaigns and represents The Creative Coalition and its legislative agenda before members of Congress and the White House. She produced the feature film “Poliwood,” airing on Showtime, and edited the recently published book Art & Soul. Bronk pens this weekly column with assistance from Risa Kotek.