In recent months, there has been an onslaught of sexual harassment and assault allegations hovering over Hollywood as both women and men have come forward about their own traumatic experiences in the entertainment industry. For The Hollywood Reporter’s latest actress roundtable, Mary J. Blige shared her experience growing up as a “tomboy” in the industry and the importance of women opening up about abuse.
Blige says that while she herself hasn’t experienced sexual harassment in Hollywood — “I was always kind of like a tomboy and one of the guys”– she’s “happy” for the women who have shared their accounts of sexual harassment because it has allowed them to become free, and is optimistic about the future. “I believe things will change because it’s making other women say, ‘Me too, me too,’ and that’s why it keeps happening every day,” she said. “And it will change things because people don’t want to be in bondage anymore.”
She admits that she concealed her femininity because of what she had experienced as a child and favored “baggier jeans and Timberlands” over more revealing clothes. “It took me a very long time to even wear makeup and tight clothes because I’d been through so much,” she added, revealing that she still struggles with her own secrets, even though she opened up about being abused as a child on Oprah back in 2006.
“I’m happy that these women are hopefully free because it hurts,” she continued. “I’m happy people are being exposed and [are] exposing people.”
Watch Mary J. Blige’s roundtable discussion below.