Who Is Jennifer Siebel Newsom, The First Partner Of California?

Jennifer Siebel Newsom broke barriers when she adopted the title "first partner" in place of the traditional "first lady" after her husband, Gavin Newsom, became the governor of California. During an interview with Ms. Magazine, Jennifer explained that her passion for gender equality led her to make this groundbreaking decision. "The title of 'first partner' is a statement of Gavin's and my shared values," she revealed. "It's a demonstration of our commitment to gender equity and inclusivity — values that go to the heart of our 21st century partnership and who we are as a state." The former actor went on to explain that she hopes other spouses of elected officials are inspired to take on the title of first partner.

While Jennifer made headlines for her inclusive title, there is so much more to learn about the mother of four. She opened up about how she views motherhood as a gender equality activist in an essay she wrote for Glamour in 2019. The mom revealed that gender roles affect her relationship with Gavin and their parenting responsibilities. "I will always bear the responsibility of our children in a way Gavin never will," she wrote. The San Francisco native also discussed the shame many working mothers like her face.

It may be safe to say that Jennifer is an expert in balancing her career and motherhood, because her resumé is just as impressive as her husband's. Keep reading to find out more about Jennifer Siebel Newsom's many accomplishments.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom lost her sister as a child

For the most part, Jennifer Siebel Newsom's childhood was stable. The former actor's interview with Marin Independent Journal revealed that she and her siblings were raised by two financially secure parents. Newsom's mother, Judy Siebel, was a community volunteer, while her father, Ken Siebel, was an investment manager. Her father also helped develop Conservation International, a nonprofit environmental organization. However, although Newsom had a safe home with hardworking parents, she did experience a childhood tragedy that still brings her to tears, as Marin Independent Journal revealed.

The activist shared that she was involved in a golf cart accident that killed her sister. Newsom was only 6 years old at the time, while her sister was 8. She explained that she lived with guilt for years after the accident. "I tried to be two people, be perfect, because I didn't feel like I was enough," she said. The mother of four went on to reveal that the accident shaped her into who she is today. She shared that the tragedy may have led her to strive to become "the nurturer, the protector, the giver who wants to help the less fortunate." Although Newsom's confidence may have taken a hit following the accident, she appears to be sure of herself these days, because she went on to say, "I am simply a girl who means well, who wants to make movies and to do good things in the world."

She's a Stanford graduate

Jennifer Siebel Newsom's smarts got her into California's Stanford University, where she eventually earned a Bachelor's degree in Latin American studies and a Minor in Human Biology. She even graduated with honors. The book-smart activist later returned to Stanford Business School to receive her MBA, per Marin Independent Journal. Newsom was a well-rounded student and was also involved in sports. In fact, the San Francisco native was recruited by Stanford after she got their attention as a talented high school soccer player, according to Marin Magazine.

Newsom also played basketball and tennis while in high school, so it is perhaps no surprise that her athleticism helped her secure a spot at Stanford. The mom of four reminisced on her college years while speaking to Marin Independent Journal. "I was this driven, over-achieving perfectionist who excelled in sports," she recalled while tearing up. "I had to find myself again." Newsom's college years may have been overwhelming in part because of an injury she sustained while playing for the junior national soccer team in high school. Regardless, she didn't allow the injury to deter her from joining the collegiate soccer team, and the blond beauty is still quite the athlete years later. In the same interview, she shared: "I just played tennis and basketball this morning. I still ski hard."

She traveled the world with Conservation International

As previously mentioned. Jennifer Siebel Newsom's father helped develop Conservation International, per Marin Independent Journal. According to the organization's mission, "Conservation International empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the well-being of humanity." Newsom began working with Conservation International after receiving her undergraduate degree, and her volunteer work allowed her to travel the world.

The women's rights activist spoke about her time with the organization as part of an exhibition for the International Museum of Women in 2011. "This is the first nonprofit organization that I worked for during my teen/college years, so it was truly formative of my passions for international justice and all of the environmental issues that I care about," she revealed. "Through my work with Conservation International, I learned how effective micro-enterprise opportunities are in providing long-term sustainability to indigenous communities. And, it all starts with the women." Newsom traveled to countries throughout Latin America, Africa, and Europe during her time as a volunteer, per Yahoo!.

The First Partner started out as an actor

Even though Jennifer Siebel Newsom had a Stanford education under her belt as a young adult, she had aspirations far beyond diving into a traditional career. At 28 years old, the then-aspiring star moved to Hollywood to pursue acting. Although Newsom didn't reach celebrity status, she did snag roles in projects like "Life," "Numb3rs," and "Presidio Med," per IMDb. A 2018 interview with Mamalode revealed that the budding actor's career was put on hold not because she couldn't land roles, but because she didn't want to fall victim to misogyny in Hollywood.

"When I went into acting, my agent told me to lie about my age (I was 28) and take my Stanford MBA off of my resume," Newsom revealed. "I didn't do either but my confidence was really shaken as I realized that everything I had worked for and done in my life had no value in that town. It didn't make sense to me that I should be devaluing my accomplishments to achieve 'success.'" This realization may have been what led Newsom to become a gender equality advocate as California's first partner.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom is now a filmmaker

Jennifer Siebel Newsom's eye-opening experiences as an actor led her to become a filmmaker. While speaking with Mamalode, she revealed that Hollywood's inaccurate portrayals of women inspired her to produce her documentary, "Miss Representation." "As Gavin introduced me to various women in politics, I saw a complete disconnect between these powerful women in the real world and how the media portrayed powerful women," the movie maker explained. "So, I started doing research on the representation of women in positions of power and influence and the media's misrepresentations of women."

In "Miss Representation," Newsom explores the underrepresentation of women in influential roles in the media and culture. She also interviews a number of notable women to showcase their perspectives, per Vogue. This film is only one example of how Newsom's work is influenced by her passion for gender equality. Her 2019 documentary, "The Great American Lie," explores gender inequality on a systemic level. "We need renewed economic and social mobility in this country," Newsom said of the film, per The Representation Project. "I hope my film will spark a national conversation around how the elevation of stereotypically 'masculine' values has led to extreme social and economic immobility and how, if we elevate more 'feminine' values such as empathy, care, and community, we can fix some of these systemic inequities." Newsom's production company, Girls Club Entertainment, allows her to produce these gender inequality-focused projects.

She dated George Clooney before finding love with Gavin Newsom

Before Jennifer Siebel Newsom was the first partner of California, she had a fling with George Clooney. This romance took place back when Jennifer was a budding Hollywood actor, and, although she hasn't had much to say about it, Clooney did tell Esquire that they, "went out for a minute." While this relationship didn't work out, it led Jennifer to find love with Gavin Newsom. The couple got engaged in 2008 while Gavin was still the mayor of San Francisco. The California governor's friend, Stanlee Gatti, spoke to SFGate about the chemistry between Jennifer and Gavin. "I actually think they were made for one another," he said. "You know the kind of thing where people finish each other's sentences? They do. Yet they're respectful of each other. They're pretty in sync with the way they feel about some things."

Jennifer opened up about why she and her now-husband were first drawn to each other during an interview with The Chronicle (via SFGate). "We had so much in common, we were blown away — from our love for Africa to our interests in political issues to art and the wine business and college sports," she revealed. The couple said their vows just months after their engagement on a ranch in Montana, per SFGate. Their extravagant destination wedding included a star-studded guest list and swanky cabins for those wealthy guests.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom is set to testify against Harvey Weinstein

Jennifer Siebel Newsom shocked the world with a powerful essay she wrote for HuffPost in October 2017. In the piece, the first partner of California revealed that she was one of Harvey Weinstein's many victims. "Based on my years in the industry and unfortunately, my own personal experience with Harvey Weinstein, I can tell you that I believe every single word that was written in the extremely disturbing, but not all that shocking, New York Times piece published yesterday," Newsom penned, referring to the article that detailed Weinstein's history of crimes against women in Hollywood. "Not all that shocking because very similar things happened to me." The filmmaker went on to reveal that she was once left alone with the infamous director after he requested to meet with her about a movie role.

After being sentenced to 23 years in prison for criminal sexual acts and rape, Weinstein is set to go on trial once again for the multiple sexual assault charges he faces in Los Angeles. Newsom is one of the women who will testify against him in court. Her lawyer, Beth Fegan, told CNN, "Like many other women, my client was sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein at a purported business meeting that turned out to be a trap. She intends to testify at his trial to seek some measure of justice for survivors and as part of her life's work to improve the lives of women."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).