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Marcia Clark On How Surviving A Brutal Rape Led Her To A Career In Law

"All I could feel was anger, which probably saved me."
Marcia Clark recently told The Hollywood Reporter that her rape at the age of 17 is what inspired her to study law. 
Marcia Clark recently told The Hollywood Reporter that her rape at the age of 17 is what inspired her to study law. 

Marcia Clark is best known as the lead prosecutor in the "trial of the century" -- O.J. Simpson's infamous murder trial, for which he was found not guilty in 1995. But for the lawyer-turned-crime-novelist, the path to prosecutor was not an easy one.

Clark, who has "become admired and even lionized," with the FX hit show "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story," recently spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about how she went from aspiring actress to one of the most well-known prosecutors in the country. 

Clark told The Hollywood Reporter that when she was 17 years old and traveling in Israel, she was violently raped by a waiter she had briefly interacted with earlier in the day. After breaking into the hut she was staying in and watching her sleep, he convinced her to go to cafe to meet up with their mutual friends. Afterward, she went to his room to listen to music -- but when she got up to leave, he "sucker punched" her and threw her down onto the bed. "I screamed and screamed, and he laughed and laughed and said, 'No one can hear you.' And they couldn't," she said. 

Clark said the traumatic incident first made her suicidal: 

I just walked to a far end of the beach and thought, "This is it. I can't live with this." And I walked into the ocean. It's really calm, that ocean, it's very warm, it's almost like a lake. I got all the way up to about here [below her nose] because I was going to kill myself. I felt so worthless. And then I got mad. All I could feel was anger, which probably saved me.

Clark's anger also fueled her studies. Instead of pursuing the career in acting that she'd envisioned for herself, she was inspired to study law. She majored in political science and international relations at UCLA, subsequently attended Southwestern School of Law and became a public defender for the city of Los Angeles. 

"Once I started representing violent criminals, it became a different story for me, very real," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "And then I thought, 'I really want to take care of the victims.'" 

(It may come as no surprise that, more than a decade after the verdict, Clark told The Hollywood Reporter that she stands by her belief that Simpson is guilty.) 

Clark and fellow prosecutor Christopher Darden during the O.J. Simpson trial. 
Clark and fellow prosecutor Christopher Darden during the O.J. Simpson trial. 

During the trial, Clark endured sexist criticism, something that "The People v. O.J. Simpson" has captured particularly well. But despite the misogynist commentary that plagued her throughout the trial and in the aftermath, she has managed to flourish since. 

While no longer working as a prosecutor, Clark continues to pursue justice for marginalized communities by representing impoverished Los Angeles area citizens in their court appeals. She also has a publishing deal with Amazon, and has written several successful mystery novels since 2011. 

At the peak of her very public position as prosecutor, Clark was dubbed a "bitch." Perhaps "badass" is more fitting.  

Head over to The Hollywood Reporter to read the full interview.

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