Jennifer Aniston is opening up about a painful childhood incident that she overcame — with the help of Friends.
The 50-year-old actress was honored as one of Variety‘s six Power of Women honorees on Friday, when she recalled her “own relationship” with her sense of power.
“I remember a parental figure saying to me around the critical age of about 11, after a dinner party, that I was excused from the table because I didn’t have anything interesting to add to the conversation,” Aniston said at the event, which was sponsored by Audi. “Ouch. It stuck to me, it stuck to me like painfully worded sentences can and if I’m being honest — and I’m being honest because I’m 50 and that comes with the territory — I carried that sentence with me into adulthood.”
She continued, “I always felt incredibly comfortable giving a voice to the words of others but put me in a table full of strangers and I’d go right back to being 11 years old.”
The effect the moment had on her followed her all the way to her breakthrough on Friends, which is when, she said, she “started seeing myself in a different light.”
“These last two years have really made me think a lot about the messages we send young kids — little girls especially. How the things we say and do can either build them up — or tear them down. And make them feel like maybe their voices don’t matter,” Aniston said.
The star continued, “I started meeting all of these people who expressed to me how much the show meant to them — how it lifted their spirits during a bad breakup or got them through an illness. I was just so incredibly moved by that.”
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“And I began to change the way I thought about my own voice, and what it meant to have a platform to use it,” Aniston added.
The actress’s platform has extended far beyond Friends, although it catapulted her into the highest reaches of Hollywood.
Aniston is now an executive producer working on high-profile projects such as the highly anticipated Apple series The Morning Show in which she also stars alongside Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell.
In the series, Aniston’s character, Alex Levy, is forced to address the nation after her co-host Mitch Kessler (Carell, 57) is fired following allegations of sexual misconduct.
Once Carell’s Mitch is fired, Alex is forced to live up to the public’s positive image of her — all while teaming up with a new anchor, Bradley Jackson (Witherspoon, 43).
Aniston also executive produced the Netflix films Dumplin’ and Murder Mystery in which she starred with longtime friend Adam Sandler.
The Morning Show begins streaming November.