Veteran actress Laura Dern revealed Wednesday that she was sexually assaulted when she was 14-years-old.
Dern, now 50, appeared on The Ellen Show and explained that hearing other actresses at the Elle Women in Hollywood event speak out about abuse they’ve experienced helped her come to grips with a past she said she had “justified.”
“I woke up and I realized that in that space 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,” said Dern, whose the daughter of Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd.
“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,'” the Jurassic Park star said.
The Big Little Lies actress applauded the industry-wide commission to tackle sexual harassment and “predators” that Lucasfilm president and Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy suggested amid the swirling Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal.
Dern also praised the women who spoke out at the Elle event about the abuse they’ve endured in Hollywood and beyond.
“There was no one there who didn’t say they’d had the experience,” Dern said. “Here is an abuse of power here and something is not OK.”
Jessica Chastain blasted Hollywood’s hypocrisy as the Elle event, saying “This is an industry rife with racism, sexism and homophobia.”
“Oh we’re very quick to point the finger at others and address the issue with social action and fundraising,” she said. “Yet there is a clear disconnect between how we practice what we preach in our industry.”
Veteran actress Reese Witherspoon said she was repeatedly sexually harassed and assaulted in Hollywood, the first episode occurring when she was 16.
“[I feel] true disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment,” the Oscar winner said in a speech at the Elle Women in Hollywood event.
“I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault and I don’t speak about them very often,” she said.