Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner appeared at the California State Capitol today to testify before the Assembly Judiciary Committee in support of a new bill that would modify the definition of harassment and, they believe, better protect their children.
Watch the full story on “20/20: Famous Parents, Famous Problems” TONIGHT, August 16, at 10 p.m. ET.
Berry, 46, has a 5-year-old daughter, Nahla, with her ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry and is expecting her first child with her new husband, French actor Olivier Martinez. The Oscar-winning actress said that during a custody battle over Nahla in which Aubry blocked her from moving to France with Martinez, paparazzi baited the child with taunting questions.
“‘How do you feel, Nahla? You may not see your father again. How do you feel about that?’” Berry said they would ask her child, adding that she had hoped to move to Europe to escape the constant media glare. “They say curse words and call me names, all trying to provoke some sort of response to sell a photograph.”
Naturally, her daughter is confused by the attention, and “doesn’t want to go to preschool anymore” because she’s always trailed, Berry said.
She’d ask, “‘Why did they say that to me, mommy? What does that mean? Who are these men and why are they following us?’” Berry said, before introducing fellow celeb mom Jennifer Garner. “We aren’t just whiny celebrities. … We’re moms who are just trying to protect our children.”
Garner, who said that a threatening stalker once trailed her with a crowd of photographers and hid behind her daughter’s school, cried when discussing the treatment of her family.
“I chose a public life … [but] my three children are private citizens,” she said. “I love my kids. They’re beautiful and sweet and innocent, and I don’t want a gang of shouting, arguing, lawbreaking photographers who camp out everywhere we are all day every day to continue traumatizing my kids.”
After a lengthy debate, the bill passed.
“I hope this is a nice gift to you from this committee,” Bob Wieckowski, California State Assembly member and chairman of the committee that passed the bill, told Berry, acknowledging her birthday on Wednesday.
The bill now heads to the Appropriations Committee.