"It’s something we’ll always be deeply and unreservedly sorry for."

Caroline Goldstein
August 04, 2020
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Ryan Reynolds opened up to Fast Company about his regret over his 2012 wedding to Blake Lively at a slave plantation in South Carolina. Hindsight is 2020. Also very 2020: Deeply investigating, apologizing for, and actively working to acknowledge and change our complicity in systemic racism.

Reynolds and Lively got married at Boone Hall in South Carolina. The couple discovered the venue on Pinterest and were taken by the beauty of it, and like so many Pinterest-surfing white couples before them, they didn’t take the time to reflect on the abject horror that took place on that plantation for about two centuries before their big, special day. (Pinterest and The Knot Worldwide both banned the promotion of former slave plantations as wedding venues in 2019.) 

Now, Reynolds told Fast Company, he and Lively are fully cognizant of their mistake.

“It’s something we’ll always be deeply and unreservedly sorry for,” Reynolds said.

“It’s impossible to reconcile," he continued. "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,” Reynolds said. “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.”

Both Reynolds and Lively have taken some significant steps toward that reconditioning beyond publicly apologizing for past missteps. According to Fast Company, Reynolds has shifted his philanthropic contributions toward social justice organizations in recent years, which includes a $1 million donation to both the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. (Fast Company writes that Reynolds rarely talks about his philanthropic efforts, as “he worries that white celebrities too often drown out non-white voices, even if that’s not his intention.”)

In May, shortly after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd, both Reynolds and Lively posted on social media in recognition of their complicity in systemic racism, their commitment to anti-racism work, and their promise to educate their three children “differently than the way our parents taught us.” They also shared that they donated $200,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

“Mainly, we want to use our privilege and platform to be an ally,” they wrote. “And to play a part in easing the pain for so many who feel as though this grand experiment is failing them.”  

Reynolds is also committed to hiring diverse staff members at his production company, Maximum Effort, as well as providing employees with equity in the company.

“Representation and diversity need to be completely immersive,” Reynolds told Fast Company. “Like, it needs to be embedded at the root of storytelling, and that’s in both marketing and Hollywood. When you add perspective and insight that isn’t your own, you grow. And you grow your company, too.”