As we continue to hear more and more women speak up during the #metoo movement, actress Natalie Portman reveals that she felt lucky she didn’t have a story to share regarding sexual abuse and harassment. That is of course until Portman realized she didn’t have one story, but actually hundreds of stories of harassment while working in the entertainment industry.
Harper’s Bazaar reports about Portman’s “ah ha” moment she shared at Vulture Festival L.A. about when she realized the way she has been treated in her industry over the years was not okay and actually would be considered sexism and harassment. Portman entered the Hollywood scene as a child actor in her first feature film The Professional at just 12 years old, so the actress who is now 36 has had decades to experience and reflect on the way she has been treated in the work place.
When all of the Harvey Weinstein allegations came to light, Portman reveals that she felt a sense of relief that she didn’t have any experiences like a lot of her colleagues. She says, “When I heard everything coming out, I was like, wow, I’m so lucky that I haven’t had this.”
But it didn’t take long reading other women’s accounts for Portman to realize she could definitely include her name in the #metoo campaign. She explains, “And then, on reflection, I was like, okay, definitely never been assaulted, definitely not, but I’ve had discrimination or harassment on almost everything I’ve ever worked on in some way.” She adds, “I went from thinking I don't have a story to thinking, Oh wait, I have 100 stories. And I think a lot of people are having these reckonings with themselves, of things that we just took for granted as like, this is part of the process.” For instance, Portman describes an awkward plane trip she took with a producer who had just one bed made up for she and him to sleep in during the flight.
After Portman’s break-thru role in The Professional when she was just 12, she became aware and wary of the way the media sexualized her as Hollywood’s new Lolita. She says, “There was definitely a period where I was reluctant to do any kind of kissing scenes, sexual scenes. Because [for] my first roles, the reaction people would [give] in reviews [was to] call me a Lolita and things like that, and I got so scared by it.”
Portman also explains how she often finds herself as one of the only women on set and struggles to be heard by directors. She feels women in her industry are often kept isolated and quiet. She relays one instance where a director told her that her opinion was “exhausting”. She explains that another male actor ended up standing up for her. She says, “To the point where one of the male actors I was working with stood up for me in that meeting, because he said, ‘You know, you’re completely not listening to her and you’re completely listening to me and we’re saying almost the same thing’”.
What do you think of Natalie Portman’s story of sexism and harassment?
Do you count yourself as part of the #metoo campaign?