Natalie Portman was honored at Elle’s Women in Hollywood Awards on October 14th, and during her acceptance speech she spoke about making mistakes and moving forward.
“America, f*** yeah!”
That’s how honoree Natalie Portman kicked off her acceptance speech, quoting a line from one of her favorite films, the 2004 comedy satire Team America: World Police from the team behind South Park. It may have seemed like a curious choice if presenter America Ferrera were out of view but she was there standing near the back of the stage after delivering a passionate speech about the Lucy in the Sky star.
The two met and became friends during the beginnings of the Time’s Up movement and the admiration is mutual. “You are a true friend, an incredible performer and an inspiring leader,” Portman, in Dior, told Ferrera. “I know I’m not the only one here who is chomping at the bit to vote for you one day. Hopefully soon!”
Portman mentioned how the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have brought her closer to Hollywood peers and colleagues, something that had not happened in her 25-year-career. “To my great delight, I have encountered some of the kindest, most thoughtful, most interesting people I’ve ever met,” she explained. “Once, a long time ago, a guy I dated told me that his father had warned him not to date actresses or other female impersonators. I laughed but I also internalized that people think of actresses as crazy, as difficult, as demanding and as artificial. And recently as I sat in room after room of actresses because of Time’s Up, I was struck by how down to Earth, empathetic, thoughtful and multi-faceted each of the women I met were — without exception.”
Speaking of exceptions, Portman then concluded her remarks by delivering a call to action for women to go out in the world, screw up, make mistakes, learn from them and move on. And she saved two more swear words for the very end.
“I realized that success for women relies on good behavior and that the women who are in this room are probably the hardest working, the least complaining, the best personalities you can find. Of course here, everyone here is super talented and smart but also easy to be around because if you are a woman and you’re a pain in the ass, you will not get another job,” detailed Portman. “Meanwhile, how will we know if we’ve reached equality? Is it going to be when this room is a room of successful women and it’s full of assholes? Is it going to be when our movies tank and we get a raise the next time? Is it going to be when we commit a series of crimes and get elected anyway? I hope not. I hope that it’s more optimistically that equality goes in the direction of men being held to the same standards that women are held to.”
She continued: “Our job in this room as leaders in our industry is f*** up. The most powerful example we can set for the next generation would be to do that most human of things — make mistakes and then not follow the narrative of the doomed woman or the fallen woman or the destroyed woman. Go out post-mistake and succeed. Wildy. So f*** up and thrive sisters!”
We wish Natalie and all the other winners congratulations.