Natalie Portman: I'm done being silent

Israeli actress Natalie Portman was breastfeeding during the Time's Up meeting.

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February 6, 2018 15:21
2 minute read.
Natalie Portman

Presenter Natalie Portman and Ron Howard at the 75th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, US January 7, 2018. . (photo credit: HANDOUT/REUTERS)

In a panel discussion about sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood earlier this week, Israeli-born US actress Natalie Portman said women across all industries must ignore the calls to silence them.

“Farm workers are told no one cares about you, you’re in the shadows, your voice doesn’t matter. And the women in the spotlight are told you’re the elite, no one cares about you, stop whining, stay silent,” Portman said at the panel at the 2018 Makers Conference in Los Angeles on Monday night. “And the uniformity is just like ‘Shut up, no one cares.’ And all of our voices matter. Our voices don’t matter more, our voices don’t matter less. We all have stories to tell and need to stop being silent about injustice.”

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Portman appeared at the panel alongside actress Rashida Jones and other activists and industry figures including Jill Soloway, Nina Shaw, Maha Dakhil, Melina Matsoukas and Tina Tchen.

And in an interview with the UK’s Porter magazine that will be published in full this weekend, Portman said she has “100 stories” of sexual harassment. Natalie Portman experienced "sexual terrorism" at 13, as said Women's March, January 20, 2018. (Instagram/ nportmanofficial)

Portman, the 2018 Genesis Prize Laureate, said that she “went from thinking, ‘I don’t have a story’ to, ‘Oh, wait, I have 100 stories.’ And I think a lot of people are having these reckonings with themselves.”

At the panel on Monday night, Portman said she often felt very isolated on film sets, and has only made more actress friends after joining the Time’s Up movement.

“We’re usually the only woman at work,” she said. “Like many industries, we walk onto a nearly all-male set, and we’re usually alone, and we rarely get to interact with each other... I think Rashida [Jones] is my only close actress friend... until now,” Portman said. “The power of just all being in a room together and sharing our experiences and realizing how much we’ve been endangered by being isolated, by being the only woman in the work environment.” That experience, said Portman, “endangers you, it isolates you, it prevents you from sharing stories.”

But for at least the past month Portman has been very active in the Time’s Up movement, and was one of the ringleaders of the choice to wear black at the Golden Globes last month. She also created a buzz when, on stage, she introduced the “all-male” nominees for best director at the awards show.

At the Makers Conference panel, Dakhil, a talent agent, credited Portman with being one of the masterminds of the movement – and a multi-tasker at that.

“The spirit of Time’s Up really began with the next generation right there in the room,” said Dakhil of one of the early meetings. “[Natalie] brought her daughter Amalia to the room and... only in true Natalie Portman elegance and strength [was] breastfeeding on the one hand and planning the Golden Globes on the other.”


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