The rebel, the queen, and the ballerina — Natalie Portman is known for her exemplary contributions and vast range in movies from a very early age. She gained notoriety for her role in Leon: The Professional as the young protegee of an assassin who finds her family murdered and goes on the run. Years later, the world shook with her performance in V For Vendetta and Black Swan.
However, the fame and unfailing movie hits and successes come at a cost, and even a brilliant and talented actor like Natalie Portman wasn’t immune to it. The criticisms and reviews that flooded in from her very first movie were ones that would psychologically haunt her to this day.
Natalie Portman’s Struggles With Sexism in Hollywood
An Israeli-born American, Natalie Portman, previously Natalie Hershlag, was ten years old when she was first spotted and offered to work as a model for Revlon. However, she used the opportunity to land an acting career and soon after auditioned for the off-Broadway musical Ruthless! in 1992.
1994 found Portman in the global arena as she launched herself as a Hollywood child actor working beside immortal talents like Jean Reno and Gary Oldman. However, her performance however convincing, moving, ambitious, and filled with potential wasn’t enough to grasp the reviewers’ attention.
“I remember reading a review of me when I was about 13 years old that talked about my breasts. I think, at the time, it was very normal… Part of it was the kind of roles that were being written and part of it was the way journalists felt entitled to write about it [her body image].”
The After-effects of Sexism Affected Portman’s Work
Natalie Portman remembers not wanting to do certain roles or pick up select projects for the way she could be perceived by the audience. She became psychologically inflicted with doubts about her own merits and revealed 12 years after her Harvard graduation that, “I’m still insecure about my own worthiness. I have to remind myself today; that you are here for a reason.”
When she exited the early teenage years of harassment, she realized a crucial aspect of the choices she needed to make and arrived at a decision — “I’m not going to be seen that way, because it felt like a vulnerable position and also a less respectable position, in a way, to be characterized that way.”
Natalie Portman’s character range is insane pic.twitter.com/b1ZHQLvsIm
— Daniel (SW Celebration era) (@senatoramidalla) July 6, 2022
However, now having regained control of her self-image and countered the sexism she had faced early on during her career, she says, “I turned 40 while making [Thor: Love and Thunder] and it was an incredible moment in my life to say, ‘You’re going to be the fittest and strongest version of yourself.'”