The Oscar winner on having honest conversations with her kids and speaking out about sexual assault: 'It does feel optimistic'

By Kara Warner
July 03, 2019 02:00 PM
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While Mira Sorvino has been working as an activist for social change, pressing state legislators to pass stronger laws about sexual assault, she uses some of her work and experiences to teach her children about consent and keeping themselves safe.

“It’s really hard because sometimes I think I come down like a hammer,” the actress, 52, tells PEOPLE in the latest issue about having those tough conversations with her daughters Mattea, 14, Lucea, 7, and sons Johnny, 13, Holden, 10, with actor Christopher Backus, 38 . “And my daughter finds it overwhelming. ‘Like Mom, I was having a nice night before you started talking about this again. I’m fine, I’m safe.'”

The Oscar winner, who has been a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador to Combat Human Trafficking since 2009 and was one of the first women to come forward about Harvey Weinstein, says that she’s like any other parent in wanting her children to be as informed as possible so that they can protect themselves.

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“I’m just such a worrywart now and so hell-bent on nothing bad happening to my kids that I maybe have become too much of a broken record,” she admits. “I know that although I’ve had these bad experiences it doesn’t mean that those are going to befall them. I work with my boys too, and talk about consent, even things like tickling or teasing people who don’t want to be teased. Like if it’s only fun for you, it’s not fun.”

For much more on Mira Sorvino, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday

Sorvino says that although she occasionally feels like she’s “walking on this tightrope of personal exposure,” in sharing her own experience with abuse, she’s optimistic about the progress being made in the wake of #MeToo movement. “To see actual change that I’m a part of, that is the gratifying, encouraging thing,” she says.

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She adds: “I have a few days where it’s a little dark for me because it is retriggering and traumatizing to relive one’s past traumas, especially airing them in public … but it’s at the service of trying to pass laws and make change. All across the country laws are being changed. Victims are being believed.”

Sorvino is also back in demand as an actress, with 11 new film and TV projects in the works. First up is the R-rated comedy Stuber (in theaters July 12), in which she stars opposite Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick) as a no nonsense police captain.

“She’s a woman who’s a leader in a man’s world,” she says of the role. “I loved it.”

The actress notes that she would “love to do more comedy,” she says. “I’m never as happy as when I’m successful at making people laugh.”