Sharing her story. Parenthood star Joy Bryant revealed that she was the product of a negative sexual encounter between her mother and an older predator. The 43-year-old actress opened up about her past in an emotional essay written for the Lenny Letter.
“On October 18, 1974, Joyce gave birth to me, not in love but in shame, after hiding her pregnancy from my grandmother for six months. I am the product of a 15-year-old girl and an older man she knew,” she wrote. “It doesn’t matter how or why or when. It happened, and with both my mother and my father dead, I’ll never know the specifics. What matters is that no one protected her before or after.”
Joy went on to emphasize that their mother-daughter relationship was undoubtedly tainted by Joyce’s traumatic past. “What matters is that my mother was the one who was shamed,” she continued. “What matters is that my father ruined her life just as it was blossoming. What matters is she was trapped in a trauma she could never escape, a trauma that prevented her from being the mother I needed her to be. What matters is that she didn’t matter. And because she didn’t matter, I didn’t matter to her.”
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In her essay, Joy explained that her mom was incapable of loving her because she was never able to love herself. “It didn’t help that neither one of us had the tools to actually have the unspoken conversation that was the subtext of our entire relationship: ‘Mommy, why can’t you love me?’ ‘Because I can’t love myself, baby. I don’t know how,’” she wrote.
Joy — whose poignant piece comes in the wake of multiple sexual assault allegations made against Hollywood heavyweights such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey — said that she is well aware that her mother was not alone in her painful experience. “Hers is a story of what happens when Black Girl Magic becomes Black Girl Tragic and the casualties it leaves in its wake,” she said. “Her story is one of stolen innocence and lost potential, a record of pain spun on a never-ending loop. Her story is sadly the story of so many.”
When it comes to her own experiences with sexual asaault, Joy admitted that she, too, has unfortunately been on the receiving end of inappropriate behavior. “I thought about my own experiences of abuse, assault, and harassment, pre-fame and post-fame. The male babysitter when I was five, the male photographer in my early twenties, the male studio executive a few years ago,” she concluded. “Yeah, me too.”