Jennifer Aniston: True Power Comes From Using One’s Voice to ‘Hold People Up’

Jennifer Aniston has never considered herself powerful.

“It’s funny, I’ve never actually thought of myself as ‘powerful.’ Strong, yes. But powerful, not [really],” Aniston, one of Variety‘s six Power of Women honorees, said on Friday at the Beverly Wilshire. “It’s a distinction I’ve actually been thinking about a lot lately because that word — ‘power’ and its counterpart, ‘abuse of power’ — keeps coming up in light of what is happening in our country and in our industry, a rebalancing of the scales, I guess you could say.”

The “Morning Show” star ruminated on the meaning of the word at Variety‘s Power of Women luncheon presented by Lifetime. She recalled that a parental figure asked her, when she was 11 years old, to excuse herself from the dinner table “‘because I didn’t have anything interesting to add to the conversation.'”

“I carried that sentence with me into adulthood,” she said.

“This 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 she began to see herself in a different light and find her voice when she began working on “Friends.”

“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. And I began to change the way I thought about my own voice, and what it meant to have a platform to use it,” she said.

She said “true power” comes from using one’s voice “to hold people up and bring people together.”

The hit NBC sitcom also afforded her the opportunity to meet Marlo Thomas. Her TV mom introduced her to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a pediatric facility that provides free medical care to children with life-threatening diseases like cancer.

“Right around this time every fall, we shoot the holiday PSA, and I get to spend the day with a family of St. Jude. I always say it’s the best day of the year and the hardest day of the year,” she said, recalling meeting a little girl at a taping a few years ago who asked her, “What is cancer?” Aniston said she was moved by the fact that the seven-year-old, Sawyer, was fighting a deadly disease, but didn’t know its name.

“That’s what’s unbelievable about these kids. Despite everything that they are up against — and as much pain as they’re often in — they are vibrant, they are joyful, they are fearless,” she said.

“And that is what every child deserves to know. That they are seen, that they are powerful and that they are loved. That they deserve a seat at the table. That anything they have to say — or any question they have to ask — is of value, even if we don’t have all the answers for it.”

More TV

  • Asa Butterfield in Netflix's Sex Education

    Netflix & Sky Strike Multi-Year Deal To Keep Streamer On Service

    Comcast-owned pay-TV operator Sky and Netflix have hammered out a new multi-year deal to keep content from the streaming giant on the service.  Under the new deal, customers of Sky’s set-top box service Sky Q will have the option to opt in for Netflix’s basic plan, which is priced locally at £5.99 ($7.99) per month. [...]

  • Paradigm Agency Cuts 30 Staff Positions,

    Paradigm Agency Cuts 30 Staff Positions, Mostly in Music

    Paradigm has made a significant cut to its staff, laying off about 30 agents and support staff or 4% of its employees, Variety has confirmed. Sources said most of the layoffs were in the music area at the agency and took place Friday.. Paradigm, which had about 700 employees prior to the layoffs, had no [...]

  • Edward Burns'Alex Cross' film premiere, Los

    Edward Burns Dramedy, Blumhouse TV Docuseries in Development at Epix

    Epix is eyeing some potential new additions on both the scripted and unscripted front. Network president Michael Wright unveiled Epix’s development slate, which includes two scripted projects and three prospective docuseries, at its Television Critics’ Association winter press tour day. One of the two scripted series hails from Edward Burns who is best known for [...]

  • Kim Kardashian WestFashion Group International's Night

    Kim Kardashian West 'Goes to War' on Mass Incarceration in Documentary Trailer (Watch)

    Kim Kardashian West is going to war on mass incarceration. Oxygen has released the trailer for her documentary “Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project,” which sees the media personality declare that “there is a mass incarceration problem in the United States.” The two-hour documentary, premiering Sunday, April 5, captures Kardashian West as she explores the [...]

  • Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of

    Harry and Meghan Will Give Up Royal Titles, Repay U.K. for House Renovation

    Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will lose their royal titles of “His Royal Highness” or “Her Royal Highness,” when they step back as senior members of the United Kingdom’s royal family, according to a new statement from Queen Elizabeth and Buckingham Palace. However, the duo will maintain the moniker of Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The [...]

  • Grey's Anatomy deaths

    The Top 13 ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Deaths Ranked

    If there’s anyone that knows how to deliver a heart-wrenching death scene, it’s the team behind ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” Created by Shonda Rhimes, the broadcast medical drama came out of the gate in 2005 with literal life and death stakes for its characters. Being set in a hospital meant that mortality was a constant theme [...]

  • Jeffrey Epstein

    'Surviving Jeffrey Epstein' Docuseries Gets Greenlight at Lifetime

    Lifetime has officially ordered the four-hour documentary series “Surviving Jeffrey Epstein.” The announcement was made at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Saturday. The series was originally announced as in development last summer and is expected to air this summer on Lifetime. Hailing from Emmy-winner Robert Friedman’s Bungalow Media + Entertainment, Anne Sundberg [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content