It’s been nearly eight years since Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds tied the knot in 2012. In a new interview with Fast Company, the 43-year-old actor opened up for the first time about how much he and Lively deeply regret their decision to get married at Boone Hall.
Not many people are aware that the popular wedding venue, Boone Hall is actually a former plantation in South Carolina. This particular wedding venue has been called out as hurtful because of the location’s roots in slavery and oppression.
Now, especially in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, Reynolds revealed that he and Lively are dedicated to making up for that decision by being better. The shame will stay with them, but they are motivated to continually do the work now to be anti-racist.
From a wedding venue to a place built upon devastating tragedy
“It’s something we’ll always be deeply and unreservedly sorry for,” the Deadpool star said. “It’s impossible to reconcile. What we saw at the time was a wedding venue on Pinterest. What we saw after was a place built upon devastating tragedy.”
Last May, Pinterest banned plantation-style wedding content. Which means photos of Lively and Reynolds’ wedding are no longer on the photo-sharing platform. In 2019, Pinterest and The Knot also announced that they’re stopping the promotion of venues and content that romanticize weddings at former slave plantations.
Plantation weddings: Representing a dark period of american history
Plantation weddings have a source of discomfort for a long time now. Boone Hall is to this day a thriving wedding venue, however, the plantation itself plays a role in the darkest period of American history. Boone Hall was built on the backs of black slaves, who harvested cotton and pecans and produced brick on its grounds.
Today, nine of the cabins where enslaved people lived remain on the plantation, along a long stretch of oak trees. Many couples take their wedding photos nearby, and the cabins are close to one of the sites for a wedding ceremony.
“A giant f**king mistake”
Reynolds mentioned that the couple “got married again” at home years ago. However, he said “shame works in weird ways.”
“A giant f**king mistake like that can either cause you to shut down or it can re-frame things and move you into action,” he continued. “It doesn’t mean you won’t f**k up again. But re-patterning and challenging lifelong social conditioning is a job that doesn’t end.”
“We can’t imagine feeling that kind of fear and anger”
Lively and Reynolds have since focused on fighting racial injustice. More recently, the couple publicly committed themselves to fighting racism by donating $200,000 to the NAACP Legal Fund back in June.
“We’ve never had to worry about preparing our kids for different rules of law or what might happen if we’re pulled over in the car,” they wrote on Instagram. “We don’t know what it’s like to experience that life day in and day out. We can’t imagine feeling that kind of fear and anger. We’re ashamed that in the past we’ve allowed ourselves to be uninformed about how deeply rooted systemic racism is.”
In the post, Lively and Reynolds explained they’ve been teaching their children differently than the way their parents taught them.
“We want to educate ourselves about other people’s experiences. And talk to our kids about everything, all of it, especially our own complicity. We talk about our bias, blindness and our own mistakes. We look back and see so many mistakes which have led us to deeply examine who we are and who we want to become. They’ve led us to huge avenues of education.”
“It’s the least we can do”
They also wrote about how they’re committed to raising their children “so they never grow up feeding this insane pattern and so they’ll do their best to never inflict pain on another being consciously or unconsciously.” The couple continued, “It’s the least we can do to honor not just George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Eric Garner. But all the Black men and women who have been killed when a camera wasn’t rolling.”
“And this is just the start,” Lively and Reynolds continued. “We also pledge to stay educated and vote in every election, we want to know the positions of school board nominees, sheriffs, mayors, councilpersons. We want to know their positions on justice. But mainly we want to use our privilege and platform to be an ally. And to play a part in easing pain for so many who feel as though this grand experiment is failing them.”
They then linked to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and encouraged their followers to sign petitions, donate money and provide their help and support.
“When you add perspective and insight that isn’t your own, you grow”
According to Fast Company, Reynolds is reluctant to talk about their social justice support. In part, because he worries “that white celebrities too often drown out non-white voices, even if that’s not their intention.”
But he is more willing to discuss how his recently launched, production company and marketing agency, The Group Effort Initiative, is doing its part. Through diversity hiring and providing employees with equity in the company.
“We’ll be bringing on between 10 and 20 trainees who are Black, Indigenous. People of color or people from marginalized and excluded communities. Of all ages,” Reynolds wrote on the program’s website. “These new recruits will be paid and housed out of my salary. They will spend their days on set learning from professionals and getting real-life experience. Which they can then parlay into another job and another job and hopefully a career in the film industry.”
“Representation and diversity need to be completely immersive,” Reynolds said. “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.”