The wife of Gavin Newsom discusses how the tragedy that took her sister impacted her life

 June 16, 2023

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California's Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, recently discussed the passing of her sister more than four decades ago and the effects the tragedy had on her mental health in an open and honest manner.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the documentary filmmaker and ardent champion for gender equality Siebel Newsom discussed how the trauma she experienced as a kid has influenced her work in the state of California, as The Washington Examiner reported.

In 1981, Siebel Newsom was on vacation with her family in Hawaii shortly before her seventh birthday. While she was there, she was involved in an accident with a golf cart while she was playing with many other children.

Stacey, the elder sister of Siebel Newsom, was hiding behind the cart at the time it rolled backward and caused the death of her older sister who was just 8 years old.

California First Lady's Comments

“I’m sure there was survivor’s guilt, and I’m sure, in my subconscious, it’s like I have to make up for that loss, and I have to do something to improve other people’s lives or have an impact, double my own, which is a little crazy,” Siebel Newsom told the LA Times in a Thursday interview.  “I don’t use the word ‘crazy.’ But you know, it’s aspirational.”

The Golden State's first lady said the accident caused her to take her academics, sports and arts more seriously. She earned a bachelor's degree in Latin American studies from Stanford University in 1996 and a master's degree in business administration in 2001, both with honors.

Siebel Newsom, a feminist, went on to produce multiple films to raise awareness about gender inequality. The award-winning 2011 documentary Miss Representation examined gender bias in the media through interviews with journalists, politicians, activists, academics, and others.

In 2015, Siebel Newsom devised The Mask You Live. It was about toxic masculinity, and her most recent film, Fair Play, about the gender pay disparity in the United States, was released in 2022.

Newsom's Testimony Against Weinstein

Siebel Newsom testified at Harvey Weinstein's rape trial in November 2022, claiming that the former film producer and convicted sex offender assaulted her in a hotel room in 2005.

“I thought if I went and spoke my truth that — I didn’t realize how much sexism and misogyny still exists in our culture,” Siebel Newsom said. “I was shocked by that. I was shocked. I really was. I mean, shame on me.”

In December, a jury in Los Angeles deadlocked on her accusations in the case. In February 2023, Weinstein was convicted guilty of rape and sexual assault in a separate case and received a 16-year sentence for the 2013 offense.

“It was a horrific experience. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” Siebel Newsom said, telling the LA Times she felt assaulted “all over again."

Siebel Newsom aims to advocate for more funding in women's and children's mental health before her term as governor expires in 2026, drawing from her own traumatic experiences. She founded the Representation Project in 2011, a movement that utilizes film and media content to monitor gender inequality. Siebel Newsom told the outlet that she intends to make California a gender equality-safe environment.

“A place where we’ve achieved equity and women have seats at the tables of power, where there’s no more wage gap, less violence against women, where we’ve institutionalized in government and in the private sector family-friendly workplace policies, recognizing that people have lives outside of work, and where your children are known to have the best start in life,” Siebel Newsom said.

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