Reese Witherspoon opened up to Oprah Winfrey about leaving an abusive relationship as she appeared on a “Super Soul Sunday” talk alongside Mindy Kaling.
Witherspoon, 41, said the abuse was “psychological and verbal” when she was asked by Winfrey, 64, about what had prompted her to leave.
“A line got drawn in the sand and it got crossed, and my brain just switched and I knew it was going to be very difficult but I just couldn’t go any further,” she said.
Witherspoon continued, “But it was profound, and I was young. Really young. I couldn’t ever be the person I am today — I was a different person, too. It changed who I was on a cellular level, the fact that I stood up for myself.”
“Leaving those situations [isn’t] easy because it’s wrought with self-doubt, particularly if someone damages your self-esteem,” the actress went on. “People say to me that knew me then, ‘You’re a completely different person.’ I didn’t have self-esteem, you know? And I’m a different person now. It’s part of why I can stand up and say, ‘Yes, I’m ambitious’ — because someone tried to take that from me before.”
The chat comes after the “A Wrinkle In Time” trio’s O Magazine March issue cover was unveiled. The accompanying interview saw them speak out about the current cultural shift with the Time’s Up movement and women in positions of power.
“I’ve seen this happen over and over and over again,” said Winfrey, who takes on the universe in “A Wrinkle In Time” along with Witherspoon and Kaling. “The moment you release the thing that has held you in chains or that has made you feel shamed or disappointed in yourself, there’s always, always, always, another person saying ‘Me, too.'”
The three women are set to come together on-screen in March for director Ava DuVernay’s hotly anticipated live-action Disney film, based on the 1962 classic fantasy novel. Witherspoon, Winfrey, and Kaling play three mystical astral beings who guide a young woman and her brother on a quest to help free their astrophysicist father from captivity on a distant planet.
All three actresses exemplify the idea of a “woman in power” in Hollywood, with Witherspoon explaining how she wields her position as an A-list executive producer of “Big Little Lies” and head of her own fashion brand, Draper James.
“Women in positions of power need to help people understand what the new normal is. You tell people how you want them to treat you,” she said.
For new mom Kaling, she’s still grappling with preconceived notions of what it means to be singled out as a powerful woman.
“‘Ambitious’, when applied to a woman, almost means ruthless. Used for a man, it’s considered a great compliment. But if someone called me ‘ambitious’, it’d almost feel like shade,” the actress explained.
As one of the leaders of the Time’s Up movement, Witherspoon credited social media for really pushing for change and opening up the conversation for women.
“I think our culture’s more alive and vibrant than it’s ever been. We’re waking ideas that have been dormant for a long time, and it’s terrifying and thrilling,” she continued. “Social media has opened up a conversation that was not possible even ten years ago. Women are talking about things they’ve never spoken about, and they’re actually being heard.”