EXCLUSIVE: Lady Gaga 'Was Sobbing' at Oscar Performance Rehearsal, Told Sexual Assault Survivors 'We're Gonna
By Sophie Schillaci
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Lady Gaga didn't walk away with a trophy on Oscar Sunday, but she was still one of the night's undisputed winners.
The 29-year-old singer hit the Dolby Theatre stage to perform a powerful rendition of her Academy Award-nominated song, "Til It Happens to You," along with a group of sexual assault survivors. The moving moment proved to be one of the show's highlights, garnering a standing ovation within the venue and drawing tears from stars like Kate Winslet and Rachel McAdams. After the set, Brie Larson made a point to hug each and every single survivor up on that stage, while Jason Segel and Jared Leto also offered hugs and words of praise.
"The support we received was amazing," one of the performers, Kirat Sandhu, a member of the "It's On Us" campaign, told ET on Monday.
Sandhu was one of about 50 individuals that joined Gaga for the performance, following an introduction from Vice President Joe Biden. During rehearsals on Friday, Sandhu says that the pop star was incredibly candid with the entire group.
"She made a point to say to us, you know, we are helping her get through it. She's helping us heal, and we really wanted it to be an empowering moment for all of us and all the survivors that were watching," says Sandhu.
"[Gaga] kinda brought us into a group huddle ... it was just a one-on-one conversation with all of us and she said how much it meant to her that we were there," Sandhu recalls. "The first time we saw her, she was sobbing. She could not believe that this had been made possible, that we were all there. That we were getting to do this with her."
"Til It Happens to You" was co-written by Diane Warren for the documentary The Hunting Ground, which focuses on sexual assault crimes on college campuses in the U.S. The song holds special significance for Gaga, who has previously opened up about her own experience being raped at 19 years old.
"She talked about her experiences and the pain she still feels years after this happened," Sandhu recalls of their first rehearsal. "She said, 'I want all of you to look into that camera and I want you to hurt.' ... 'This is gonna be the time that we heal, and we’re gonna heal together.'"