While appearing on Ellen today, actress Laura Dern spoke about her experiences with sexual assault and harassment for the very first time.
During Dern's recent visit to the show, she and Ellen talked about the actress' Elle Magazine cover for its annual Women in Hollywood issue. They then discussed the Elle Women in Hollywood event that took place earlier this week. Of the event, Dern said, "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 work place."
After listening to other women talk about their experiences with sexual misconduct in Hollywood, Dern was forced to realize that she too had encountered some of those same horrors. She explained that the morning after the event she woke up and was finally able to recognized that she was still, "justifying behavior." Dern then said that her mother, actress Diane Ladd, helped her identify experiences she had gone through. She told Ellen, "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, you were—' And you realize how in our culture how we have justified and therefore even condoned behavior as though it’s the norm."
Among the women who shared their stories at Elle's Women in Hollywood event was Dern's Big Little Lies costar Reese Witherspoon. Witherspoon talked about how, in the wake of Harvey Weinstein's actions being exposed recently, she too was forced to confront the fact that she had been sexually assaulted by a director when she was 16-years-old.
Though the event involved hopeful moments like when producer Kathy Kennedy presented the idea of starting a commission to protect women in the entertainment industry, during her chat with Ellen, Laura Dern pointed out that "there was no one there who didn't say they'd had the experience."