On Tuesday, Oct. 11, eager students awaited the arrival of actress Kate Walsh, known for her role as Addison Montgomery on ABC shows “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.” She arrived in the Memorial Union Building (MUB) around 6:15 p.m. to a group of roughly 60 students.
Walsh spent the day visiting college campuses around New Hampshire, where she stressed to students the importance of their vote in this year’s presidential election, while also endorsing Hillary Clinton for the position. Prior to her visit to Durham, Walsh had campaigned in Hanover, Plymouth, Concord and Manchester. Her final destination for the night, after Durham, was Dover.
Walsh began campaigning for Clinton in April 2016, after hosting a fundraiser in the theater at the ACE Hotel in Los Angeles that featured multiple female stand-up comedians. Since then, Walsh has been campaigning across the nation, with events ranging from hosting round-table discussions to canvassing.
This election is not Walsh’s first time endorsing a presidential candidate, as she actively supported Barack Obama in both of his presidential campaigns.
Along with political activism, Walsh has also devoted much of her time over the years to advocating for women’s rights, narcolepsy awareness, pet adoption and ocean conservancy.
During summer 2007, Walsh became a spokesperson for Narcolepsy Network, an organization with a goal to raise awareness of the neurological sleep disorder. In 2008 she cut the ribbon for Pedigree Dogstore, a new dog adoption center in Times Square, New York City. A year later, she partnered with Oceana to endorse the clearing of plastic in the ocean and ended up calling for the increased protection of sea turtles and lobbying to prevent offshore oil drilling on the South East coast seaboard.
Perhaps her most significant work, which partially factored her into supporting Clinton so avidly, was her work with Planned Parenthood. In 2005 she became a member of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) Board of Advocates.
Along with all of this, Walsh explained her support for Clinton by giving her audience a look into her rocky childhood. Walsh’s father emigrated to the U.S. from Ireland when he was nine years old, fleeing war, poverty and hunger. He spent most of his childhood being raised in an orphanage until he was old enough to serve in the Korean War, during which he served two tours. Her father ended up working for the labor union, and Walsh said that he fought for all workers’ rights, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity or religion. Walsh’s mother was a social worker.
At the age of six, Walsh’s parents divorced. Being raised primarily by her mother, Walsh said she was “a product of the system.” She further noted that her family relied on food stamps and Medicare to get by.
Saving up for college by working at Burger King and Dairy Queen for minimum wage, Walsh still needed to take out thousands of dollars in loans.
Looking to pursue a career in acting, Walsh dropped out of college but was left with between $36,000 and $50,000 worth of student debt and no health insurance throughout her 20s. She had to rely on Planned Parenthood to cover all of her Pap smears, annual exams and birth control, which in turn led to her current strong feelings to protect Planned Parenthood. However, hospital visits came directly out of Walsh’s pocket.
“No one should have to live like that,” Walsh said. Upon landing a role on “Grey’s Anatomy” at age 36, she knew she wanted to do whatever she could to make sure no one had to live the way she once did.
“It was instilled in me at a very young age the values of giving back and being of service,” Walsh said. Following what her father went through to create a good life for himself and his family, Walsh said she feels very blessed to be a U.S. citizen and feels that it is an American duty to vote.
Walsh even made a direct jab at Republican nominee Donald Trump saying, “I’m here because I’m really lucky. I’m a one-percenter and I pay my taxes happily.”
“We really need tons of help. We’re nationally 11 points ahead in the polls right now, but we can’t take that for granted or rest on our morals,” Walsh said, urging her audience to register to vote and to get involved by volunteering with UNH College Democrats. “I get really inspired when I see a room full of fabulous, beautiful, inspired, activated, young people.”
She expressed her gratitude by taking photos with students after her speech before heading to Dover.
“I’m excited to be electing our first female president,” Walsh said. Walsh said that she has registered to vote on Nov. 8 in her hometown of Encino, California.