Sharon Stone opened up about her family’s difficult past in an emotional speech in honor of the power of women.
On Wednesday night, the actress spoke at the inaugural Women’s Choice Awards in Hollywood, where she got candid about growing up in a family of Irish maids. Stone, 59, revealed her mother became a maid at just 9 years old — the third generation of maids in her family.
“She was given away to have a better life by being a maid in a local dentist’s home,” Stone, 59, said in her speech. “I was the first girl in my family who got to go to college, but I didn’t finish. We fell in a lot of complicated times in my family and I left. I wanted to go to New York, I wanted to pursue my dreams.”
Stone went on to say that Hilary Clinton’s groundbreaking run for president inspired her to take a look back at her life and realize that she “could be anything that I wanted to be.” Empowered by the realization, the actress finished her college degree online and recently got her diploma.
“What [Clinton] did meant so much to me, not just for me, but for my mother and my grandmother and my great-grandmother who had cleaned so many floors and scrubbed so many toilets and had been treated so sh—ly along the way,” she added.
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Her story parallels her parents’ path to higher education, as Stone tearfully revealed that she shared a special moment with her mother later in life. “Both my mom and dad had 7th and 8th grade educations,” she said, “And my dad went back to school and my mom went back to school for her high school education and she graduated with my graduating class.”
The actress — who is a mother of three — opened up about what she learned from her mother growing up, recounting moments when men had tried to take advantage of her mom at the family’s store — and her mother stood up to them.
Stone also said she learned from her mother the value of being independent, but also admitted that her mom wasn’t necessarily loving throughout Stone’s childhood.
“You know, my mother wasn’t sweet. She didn’t coddle me. She wasn’t very nice. She wasn’t very warm,” Stone said. “She never really told me she loved me, and a couple of years ago when I said, ‘Mom, you never really let me lean on you,’ she said, ‘That’s right, I taught you to stand on your own two goddam feet. And for a long time, I felt bad about that. Until I really realized what it must have been like to be a 9-year-old maid.”
The actress concluded her speech by encouraging the women in the audience to trust their “women’s intuition” and be grateful for the path that was paved for them by the hard work of the women who came before.
“I want you young ladies to think about that. I want you to think about all the women that came before you whose heads not only pounded on the glass ceiling, but whose teeth pounded on the dirt floor,” Stone said. “You women are the creative force of this life. To the women who came before us, deep down in the dirt, head smashing the ceiling — now is the time.”