As more women share their stories of sexual assault amid the staggering number of accusations against producer Harvey Weinstein, actress Laura Dern realized that she had been justifying experiences she had as a teenager as “the norm.”
Dern, 50, spoke with Ellen DeGeneres in an interview set to air Wednesday about being honored at ELLE magazine’s Women in Hollywood Awards Monday. At the event, women spoke about sexual abuse they’ve faced in their lives.
Dern’s “Big Little Lies” co-star Reese Witherspoon revealed she was sexually assaulted by a director when she was just 16; Jennifer Lawrence recalled being made to stand in a “degrading” nude lineup for an audition.
“It was an extraordinary experience, perhaps more than ever, to have this shared space and a tribe of women and artists talking about this industry, and ultimately therefore talking about sexual harassment in the workplace,” Dern said.
The actress told DeGeneres she had a revelation Tuesday morning, realizing she, too, had been “justifying behavior” that was not OK.
“ ... I talked about how I was one of the lucky ones because I was raised by actors who told me their stories and told me what to look out for, and I realized that I was I still justifying behavior,” she said. “And it was my mom who said, ‘No, no, no, Laura, that was sexual assault. That was harassment. That was assault. No, you were 14 then.’ And you realize how in our culture we have justified, and therefore even condoned, behavior as though it’s the norm. I felt very moved by people being honest and direct.”
Dern said that for her the “most exciting” part is moving forward through action, including the possible formation of a commission where woman can report ― even anonymously ― abuses of power.
Watch Dern’s interview below.