Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry have joined forces against the paparazzi.
"I am an actress, but I am a mom first," Garner, who has three children with husband Ben Affleck, said Tuesday while testifying before the California State Assembly Judiciary Committee on Public Safety in Sacramento in support of a proposed anti-paparazzi bill imposing tougher penalties on photographers who harass celebrities and their children.
"I love my kids. They're beautiful, sweet, and innocent and I don't want a gang of shouting, arguing, law-breaking photographers ― who camp out everywhere we are, all day every day ― to continue traumatizing my kids," she said, breaking into tears and taking a moment to compose herself.
"Being stalked has been hard for me, but it's beyond what a child should have to endure," the 41-year-old "Dallas Buyers Club" star continued. "The price paid for pictures of celebrity children is now absurdly high. They have a bounty on their heads every day. Literally everyday there are as many as 15 cars of photographers waiting outside our home. … Large, aggressive men swarm us causing a mob scene, yelling, jockeying for position, crowding around the kids."
Garner is hoping California Senate Bill SB606 is passed, making it a crime for photographers to alarm, torment, or terrorize a child in the picture-taking process and forcing them to be liable to fines and jail time. Meanwhile, she worries about the impact the paparazzi have already had on Violet, 7, Seraphina, 4, and Samuel, 1.
"My children aren't actors or celebrities, they are just kids like your kids or anyone else's," Garner continued. "And just like you want to protect your children, I want to protect mine. What is the psychological toll of being the object of incessant harassment? What happens to the mind of a child when the only thing they see from the outside world is aggression, hostility, and pursuit?"
Garner was joined by Berry, who is an old pro on the topic, having testified in front of the Assembly Public Safety Committee back in June. "The Call" star, 47, who is married to Olivier Martinez, is expecting her second child this fall.
"We aren't just whiny celebrities that many times people think we are," Berry said bluntly. "We're moms here who are just trying to protect our children."
She went on to say that photographers have asked her 5-year-old daughter, "'How do you feel, Nahla? You may not see your father again. How do you feel about that?'" And noted, "They say curse words and call me names, all trying to provoke some sort of response to sell a photograph."
Berry concluded, "They have the right to take the photographs, as much as I hate it. As much as I hate that my children are objectified that way. This bill still allows them to do that. What we are asking is that they take these pictures with some dignity."
The next step for the bill is for the Assembly Judiciary Committee to vote on it. However, it has been met by resistance from some media organizations concerned the bill will interfere with news gathering.
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