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Reese Witherspoon Says Women In Hollywood Have Been Swapping #MeToo Stories For DECADES — But Only Now Has 'The World Started Believing Us'

| Filed under: Jennifer AnistonReese WitherspoonSpread 'EmMarie ClaireCover ShotZendayaControversyGirl Power

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You might be shocked over the number of sexual harassment stories flooding the media, but Reese Witherspoon isn't!

The Big Little Lies star has become an empowering voice behind the Time's Up initiative since sharing stories of enduring abuse and assault both personally and professionally in the past.

But years before she was sharing her truth in print, the actress was swapping horror stories in private with other women in showbiz.

Related: Donald Trump Lashes Out At #MeToo Movement

That's why Reese isn't the least bit surprised to hear stories of sexual harassment coming out in industries outside of Hollywood as well.

In a cover interview for the March issue of Marie Claire, she explained:

"Sadly, I don't find any of this shocking. Women have been sharing stories in each other's living rooms and workplaces for as long as I've been a working woman. It's just incredible that the media and the world started believing us all and listening. I was particularly moved by the women at Ford Motor Company who came forward and told their stories of harassment and abuse, and by the women in my own industry who told their stories so bravely when they had nothing to gain."

Nothing to gain aside from power, of course — power that Reese knows is being taken back thanks to the momentum of the #MeToo movement.

She continued:

"I feel a shift, completely, a reckoning of people who have been silent for so long finally coming forward and speaking out even if their voice shakes, as I know mine did when I told my story."

The actress, as we reported, recently spoke out about being assaulted by a director when she was 16 years old and fleeing an abusive relationship when she was "really young."

Related: Why Salma Hayek Explains Almost DIDN'T Share Weinstein Story

While a radical shift may be occurring, Reese noted that there's still much work to be done in flipping the system — specifically, the need to empower women of color:

"The female leaders within every industry have to stand up for those who are voiceless and silent, and we have to do better to create more balanced cultures with female leadership and leadership with people of color. It's just profoundly overdue."

Preach, sister!

Ch-ch-check out more highlights from Reese's interview and gorgeous photos from her editorial (below)!

On how women can really affect change: "You can effect change by where you spend your money. We all need to be more aware of the companies we work at and the companies that we do business with, because the consumer is very powerful in this world of social media. Some companies are doing incredibly well with inclusion and diversity—those industries thrive, and abuse goes down when you have more balance at the top."

On supporting women-lead films: "It shouldn't just be about financial success. We should have as many opportunities to fail as we do succeed. Because artistry is not about succeeding always. It's about having the courage to try and put out into the world new ideas."

On getting support from her CAA agent husband Jim Toth: "I get a lot of support from my husband, who cares deeply about equality and always tells me, 'Why wouldn't you call the person in charge of a company and have a personal relationship with them?' He's encouraged me to be outspoken."

On combating fear: "I see [fear] as this little creature that lives in my life all the time, and I can either pay it attention and not get anything done or I can march ahead and ignore it. Sometimes that's not a good thing, and sometimes it is, but sometimes I just have to jump two feet into a cold pool and go, OK, I believe in myself enough. I know I work hard. I know I can always bet on myself."

On upcoming projects with Jennifer Aniston and Zendaya: "I'm excited about the project with Jen Aniston. It's a show about women in media–the morning news in particular. Zendaya and I are producing a movie on a book I brought to her called The Gilded Years. It's about the first African-American woman who graduated from Vassar. It's important to go back in time so that my daughter's generation and Zendaya's generation realize that these were hard-fought wins for humankind and that the brave people at the center of them were women and people of color."

Read the full interview and see more pics in the March issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands February 20.

[Image via Adriana M. Barraza/WENN.]

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