At the 2018 Women’s March in Los Angeles, Natalie Portman gave a powerful speech about a dark time in her past.
The 36-year-old actress took to the stage on Saturday and revealed how she was sexualized as a preteen after the debut of her first film, “The Professional.”
In the film, Natalie portrayed 12-year-old Mathilda, a girl who befriends an Italian hitman with the hopes of avenging the murder of her family.
“The character is simultaneously discovering and developing her womanhood, her voice and her desire. At that moment in my life, I too was discovering my own womanhood, my own desire and my own voice,” Natalie shared.
The Oscar winner said she was “so excited” when the film was released in 1994, but her experience quickly turned negative.
“I excitedly opened my first fan mail to read a rape fantasy that a man had written me,” Natalie recounted. “A countdown was started on my local radio show to my 18th birthday, euphemistically the date that I would be legal to sleep with. Movie reviewers talked about my budding breasts in reviews.”
“I understood very quickly, even as a 13-year-old, that if I were to express myself sexually, I would feel unsafe and that men would feel entitled to discuss and objectify my body to my great discomfort.”
Natalie said that she quickly changed her behavior, rejecting any role with a kissing scenes.
“I emphasized how bookish I was and how serious I was, and I cultivated an elegant way of dressing. I built a reputation for basically being prudish, conservative, nerdy, serious, in an attempt to feel that my body was safe and that my voice would be listened to,” she said.
“At 13 years old, the message from our culture was clear to me. I felt the need to cover my body and to 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.”
As Natalie spoke, fellow actresses and Time’s Up advocates Eva Longoria Baston and Constance Wu stood behind her in support.
The star later shared a snippet of her speech on her Instagram page, where she told the crowd that they all were responsible for the birth of this movement.
“You told the world that time’s up on violence. You told the world that time’s up on silence,” she said.
Natalie also posted a shot of her donning a Time’s Up shirt and a blue “Make America Gay Again” hat at the march.
WATCH: Viola Davis, Scarlett Johansson & Natalie Portman Deliver Powerful Speeches At Women’s Marches
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