Jennifer Siebel Newsom, documentary filmmaker, actress, and the wife of new California Governor, wants to be called “first partner,” rather than “first lady” with Governor Gavin Newsom now in office. The phrase “first partner,” says Siebel Newsom, is a more inclusive term.
Newsom was inaugurated on Monday, Jan. 7, making him the 40th Governor of California.
Siebel Newsom, 44, is a California native, having come from an affluent, politically conservative family from Marin County. She started dating Newsom, 51, in 2006 and the two were married in 2008 while he was mayor of San Francisco. The couple has four children together.
The introduction of this term, "first partner," opens up the discussion of gender-neutral language. Siebel Newsom’s desire to be recognized as “first partner” is also reflective of her work in general, which often aims to promote inclusivity and representation for women.
As an actress, Siebel Newsom landed roles in TV and film, including Mad Men, Life, In the Valley of Elah, Kimberly Guilfoyle Rent, and Something’s Gotta Give. However, Siebel Newsom ended up leaving the Hollywood scene, claiming she was too often typecast as the trophy wife, a role she found limiting.
After all, Siebel Newsom is far from a trophy wife.
She graduated with honors from Stanford University and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, then worked in Africa and Latin America, helping women entrepreneurs create their own socially and environmentally responsible businesses. Afterward, she headed to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting.
In the midst of her acting career, Siebel Newsom wrote, directed, and produced the award-winning documentary film, Miss Representation. The documentary aimed to expose the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America and the challenges that women face under the limited lens of mainstream media. From that film, Siebel Newsom launched a non-profit organization, The Representation Project, that uses films and social media to combat gender stereotypes.
Her second film as a director, The Mask You Live In, explores how America’s narrow definition of masculinity is harming boys, men, and society at large. This film debuted at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Both films can be watched on Netflix.
Now, as California’s First Partner, Siebel Newsom is arguably in one of the highest positions of power in California. Siebel Newsom has previously stated that she wants the work she does in her new role as first partner to parallel and complement Newsom’s work.
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