Actress Natalie Portman spoke at the Women’s March on Saturday, where she revealed the sickening extent to which she was sexualized as a young Hollywood starlet and how the experience shaped her career.
Portman recalled how when she starred in her first film, 1994’s “Leon: The Professional,” she was pumped to become famous – only to learn that there were fans out there with something other than her acting talents in mind.
“I excitedly opened my first fan mail to read a rape fantasy that a man had written me,” she said. “A countdown was started on my local radio show to my 18th birthday, euphemistically the day I would be legal to sleep with. Movie reviewers talked about my budding breasts in reviews.”
She was just 13 at the time. The overwhelming negativity she faced because of her gender made Portman start turning down certain roles.
“I emphasized how bookish I was and how serious I was and I cultivated an elegant way of dressing,” she recalled. “I built a reputation for basically prudish, conservative, nerdy, serious in an attempt to feel that my body was safe and my voice would be listened to.”
“felt the need to cover my body and inhibit my expression and my work in order to send my own message to the world: that I’m someone worthy of safety and respect,” Portman added. “The response to my expression from small comments about my body to more threatening deliberate statements served to control my behavior through an environment of sexual terrorism.”
Portman was joined at the march by a slew of celebrity attendees, including Adele, Jennifer Lawrence, Mila Kunis, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Alyssa Milano.