Decades into her career, Brooke Shields is opening up about a painful experience from her early years in the industry, a sexual assault by a Hollywood executive Shields says occurred over 30 years ago.
Shields first shared that she had been assaulted in her twenties in her recent documentary Brooke Shields: Pretty Baby, which premiered at Sundance in January and arrives on Hulu April 3. Shields further outlined the incident in a new interview with People, published yesterday.“It’s taken me a long time to process it,” Shields tells People of the assault. “I’m more angry now than I was able to be then. If you’re afraid, you’re rightfully so. They are scary situations. They don’t have to be violent to be scary.”
According to Shields, the assault happened at the “lowest point” of her career, when she was a recent Princeton graduate struggling to find acting work. At first, a dinner meeting with a Hollywood executive seemed like a blessing (“I thought I was getting a movie, a job,” she recalls). But Shields says when the executive invited her back to his hotel room to call a cab, he sexually assaulted her.
“I didn’t fight,” Shields shares in Pretty Baby. “I just froze.” Later, like all too many who have faced abuse, she blamed herself: “I kept saying, ‘I shouldn’t have done that. Why did I go up with him? I shouldn’t have had that drink at dinner,’” she recalls.
Shields’ story has been a long time coming, although she says she initially didn’t dare share her story, for fear of how it might affect the career she was striving for.
“No one is going to believe me,” Shields says she thought in the aftermath. “People weren’t believing those stories back then. I thought I would never work again.”
Now, however, Shields is readily sharing her story “with the hopes of helping people not feel alone.”
“Everybody processes their own trauma on a different timeline,” Shields shares. “I want to be an advocate for women to be able to speak their truth.”