Ryan Reynolds opened up in detail for the first time about how much he and his wife Blake Lively deeply regret their decision to get married at Boone Hall, a former plantation in South Carolina. It was 2012 then, and they had seen the venue on Pinterest. Last May, Pinterest banned plantation-style wedding content, meaning photos of Lively and Reynolds' fête itself are no longer on the photo-sharing platform. That made headlines.
Now, especially in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, Reynolds tells Fast Company that he and Lively are dedicated to making up for that decision by being better. The shame will stay with them, but they are motivated to continually do the work now to be anti-racist.
The plantation wedding, “it’s something we’ll always be deeply and unreservedly sorry for,” he said. “It’s impossible to reconcile. What we saw at the time was a wedding venue on Pinterest. What we saw after was a place built upon devastating tragedy. Years ago we got married again at home—but shame works in weird ways. A giant fucking mistake like that can either cause you to shut down or it can reframe things and move you into action. It doesn’t mean you won’t fuck up again. But repatterning and challenging lifelong social conditioning is a job that doesn’t end.”
In June, Lively and Reynolds shared on their Instagrams how they plan to raise their three daughters James, Inez, and Betty differently than they were raised. "We’re committed to raising our kids so they never grow up feeding this insane pattern and so they’ll do their best to never inflict pain on another being consciously or unconsciously," Lively and Reynolds wrote.
The couple also announced their donation of $200,000 to the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund. Here, what they shared about the anti-racist work they're doing:
We’ve never had to worry about preparing our kids for different rules of law or what might happen if we’re pulled over in the car. We don’t know what it’s like to experience that life day in and day out. We can’t imagine feeling that kind of fear and anger. We’re ashamed that in the past, we’ve allowed ourselves to be uninformed about how deeply rooted systemic racism is.
We’ve been teaching our children differently than the way our parents taught us. We want to educate ourselves about other people’s experiences and talk to our kids about everything, all of it…especially our own complicity. We talk about our bias, blindness, and our own mistakes. We look back and see so many mistakes which have led us to deeply examine who we are and who we want to become. They’ve led us to huge avenues of education.
We’re committed to raising our kids so they never grow up feeding this insane pattern and so they’ll do their best to never inflict pain on another being consciously or unconsciously. It’s the least we can do to honor not just George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Eric Garner, but all the black men and women who have been killed when a camera wasn’t rolling.
Last week we contributed $200,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. We stand in awe of this organization and its leader, Sherrilyn Ifill. And this is just the start. We also pledge to stay educated and vote in every local election. We want to know the positions of school board nominees, sheriffs, mayors, councilpersons. We want to know their positions on justice. But mainly, we want to use our privilege and platform to be an ally. And to play a part in easing pain for so many who feel as though this grand experiment is failing them.
Link in bio to the @naacp_ldf. There are petitions to sign, representatives to call, money to be donated, calls to action, or simply information to better understand the issues and how each and every one of us can help.
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Alyssa Bailey is the news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she's not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.
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