How Patricia and Rosanna Arquette Are Using Their Voices to Empower Women (Exclusive)

Acting and activism runs in the family.

The Arquette sisters are all about using their voices to uplift and empower women. 

ET's Nischelle Turner was with Patricia and Rosanna Arquette as they were honored by Visionary Women, an organization that raises funds to provide opportunities for empowering women, at the Second Annual International Women's Day Award Celebration on Thursday. The actresses opened up about their decades in Hollywood, learning to find their own voices and advocating for others who don't have that luxury. 

"Subconsciously, the way I was raised in the world around me, I didn't feel it was OK to ask for my needs to be met or to assert myself in a way," Patricia said, praising her True Romance director, Tony Scott, for helping her come into her own on the set of the 1993 film. "He really helped support my voice, and I think people can do that for each other."

"I think it was a million subconscious things like, 'Be a good girl, be nice, do this, do that,'" she said of why she lacked the confidence to stand up for herself up to that point. "You just constantly were getting fed that from everywhere." 

Rosanna jumped in, noting that women have been conditioned to apologize. "[But] we're also starting to learn self-care, which we forget a lot because we're always taking care of so many people," she noted. "So that's really important, to take care of ourselves, which I'm learning." 

"I think it's really important," Patricia agreed. "I think I'm very bad at that, I'm a failure at that. I really just overextend myself and get exhausted, so it's always a good thing to hear and remind me of that."

Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Visionary Women

While the sisters have advocated for women for decades, they've really become connected to and synonymous with gender equality and the #MeToo and Time's Up movements in recent years. Rosanna was one of the first women to come forward and speak out against Harvey Weinstein in the explosive New Yorker report in October 2017. He has denied all allegations against him. 

"I realize that there's so many women that are so impacted in such a brutal way from what this man did to their lives," Rosanna said, sharing that she's especially focused on supporting rape survivors. "My focus is really on them and that they get justice more than myself, even though it's been hard a lot. It's been very hard for me too." 

Though claims against Weinstein were publicized in 2017, Rosanna said her family and other women in Hollywood offered their support before the big #MeToo movement, during a time when she said she was told "Do not come out with this story." 

"I think Ronan [Farrow, who wrote the New Yorker piece], got in touch with Patricia to get in touch with me," she shared. "But I had told my story to quite a few people. Jane Fonda knew this years ago. A lot of people I know that they were friends of mine." 

"It's this power dynamic, and it's not just in Hollywood," Patricia added. "Part of this problem with sexual assault and rape [is a] power dynamic that's out of balance has been able to perpetuate this over and over for years and years. It's women and it's boys too."

"Some of these victims have been trying to talk about this for years," she said, pointing out the recent allegations of sexual misconduct against R. Kelly, who has also denied any wrongdoing. "People have been not ready to listen, especially to women of color."

Rosanna, however, is noticing changes. "I've definitely taken my power back. We're being heard and then there's a lot of people who do not want to listen, and you're seeing that every day," she expressed. 

For both sisters, it's important to use their platforms to shine a light on these issues. That's why Patricia decided to speak up about women's equality during her 2015 acceptance speech for Best Actress at the Academy Awards. She told ET that she kept her plans for the speech a secret for her sister, Rosanna. 

"It was terrifying. It was really scary to make that moment," she recalled. "I didn't want to tell anybody [I was going to do that], because there was such a thing about like, 'Don't do these. Don't be political.'"

Patricia has continued on her path, however, using her acceptance speeches this awards season to highlight important issues, whether it be injustices in production companies, gender equality or politics. 

"Look," the actress reasoned, "We have a long way to go."

See more from ET's interviews with the actresses and activists in the video below.