Although Natalie Portman is one of the most notable and well-respected actresses of our generation, that has not made her immune to the sexism and harassment that runs rampant in Hollywood.
During Vulture Festival in Los Angeles over the weekend, the Oscar winner spoke to the recent slew of harassment allegations leveled against prominent industry members. “When I heard everything coming out, I was like, wow, I’m so lucky that I haven’t had this. And then, on reflection, I was like, OK, definitely never been assaulted, definitely not, but I’ve had discrimination or harassment on almost everything I’ve ever worked on in some way,” Portman explained.
“I went from thinking I don’t have a story to thinking, Oh wait, I have 100 stories,” said the mother of two.
Natalie, 36, went on to detail a discomfiting experience in which she agreed to travel on a private plane with a producer and his team.
“I showed up and it was just the two of us, and one bed was made on the plane. Nothing happened, I was not assaulted. I said: ‘This doesn’t make me feel comfortable,’ and that was respected. But that was super not OK, you know? That was really unacceptable and manipulative and could have been—I was scared, you know? But just the fact of any woman, if you’re walking down the street alone at night, you feel scared, and I’m not sure guys know what that [feels like].”
Portman shared that she feels women have kept their stories of workplace abuse quiet for so long due to the isolation of the male-dominated industry. “Usually you walk into a movie as the only woman, and you’re often the only woman on set. It’s very rare to have female crew members apart from hair, makeup, and wardrobe—the very stereotypical departments for women to be in—and I think women experience this in a lot of industries. If you do get the opportunity to work, you’re often the only woman in the room. I hear this from friends of mine who are lawyers, business people, writers on shows.”
“The surprising thing is it almost feels strategic to keep you away from other women, because you don’t have the opportunity to share stories. All these accusations are like, ‘Oh yeah, everyone was isolated from each other,’ people didn’t share. They didn’t realize that there were hundreds of people with similar stories. It prevents mentorship of women by other women because you’re just not exposed to it. You have to work hard to find and actually connect to people doing the same thing because we’re often that one seat at the table.”
Bravo, Natalie, for your honesty and openness.