Hollywood’s women stand up
Girl power! At last, the leading ladies are getting one up on the bad guys in Tinseltown
Over the past two weeks, more than 30 actresses have outed Hollywood’s most powerful producer Harvey Weinstein as a sexual predator and rapist, and on October 18, A-lister Reese Witherspoon confessed her own shocking secret – that she was sexually assaulted by a director she was working with at just 16.
“I wish I could tell you that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly, it wasn’t,” the star, 41, said at Elle magazine’s Women in Hollywood Awards on October 17.
“I don’t speak about them very often, but after hearing the stories these past few days it’s made me want to speak up. I felt less alone this week than I’ve ever felt in my entire career.”
At the same event, Jennifer Lawrence shared a story from the early days of her career, when a female producer forced her and five other women to stand naked in a line-up in order to win a role.
“We are stood side by side with only paste-ons on covering our privates,” J-law revealed, adding that the woman told her to use snaps from the shoot “as inspiration for my diet” and that she needed to lose 6.8kg in two weeks to secure the role.
Like Reese, J-law, 27, believes that while the last few weeks have been tough, they’ve ultimately proved “oddly unifying” for actresses.
And it’s this recent wave of women who are no longer afraid to speak up against abuses of power that has many declaring a new age to have finally dawned in maledominated Hollywood – one where female voices are the loudest, and where the casting couch no longer exists.
“This feels like a landmark moment,” Melissa Silverstein, founder of the blog Women And Hollywood, said following the accusations against Harvey. “We’re done with men paying off people, instilling fear and using intimidation to hide abhorrent behaviour.”
Indeed, already other Hollywood bigwigs have been called out – and reprimanded – for their bullying tactics.
Along with Harvey’s brother Bob also being accused of sexual harassment, Amazon Studios head Roy Price, 50, was forced to resign amid Rose Mcgowan’s claims he helped keep Harvey’s actions against her hush-hush.
Roy also apparently asked Amazon employees whether Reese and Nicole Kidman would “show their tits” when considering if his network
He responded by telling me he didn’t know why everyone thought I was so fat, he thought I was perfectly ‘f**kable’ – J-law on a male producer’s response to the body-shaming audition she once went through
should pick up now-hit-series Big Little Lies.
But it’s not just actresses who have come forward as victims. Lesbian producer Isa Hackett says that in 2015, Roy told her, “You will love my d*ck.”
And at the Elle event, Kristen Stewart said she had saved many make-up artists and camera assistants from abuse, because “it trickled down”.
“When I say ‘saved’, I mean momentarily been like, ‘Don’t, f**ker!’” K-stew, 27, said. “They are embarrassed for one second, but it just keeps going every single day. Those girls are as duct-taped as one could possibly be because they are in fear of getting their next job, as every actress is, too, same deal.”
But now that the lid’s been forever blown off, the shame, guilt and fear of speaking g out has dissipated too, prompting stars like Lena a Heady and Minka Kelly to o share their own Harvey horror stories.
This bravery has also sparked many other women to come forward with sexual assault secrets they felt they had to hide, with the hashtag #metoo spreading across the globe on social media – and highlighting just how prevalent sexual assault is.
America Ferrera, 33, used this empowering hashtag in an Instagram post about the first time she was sexually assaulted – at the age of nine, by someone she saw daily.
“Ladies let’s break the silence so the next generation of girls won’t have to live with this bullsh*t,” she penned.
Hollywood heavyweight Gail Berman says to achieve this, the key is putting women in powerful positions where they can call the shots. Another battle on its own...
“That makes this less likely to happen,” she says. “As we all know, it’s a power issue.”
And La La Land’s leading men seem more than willing to throw their support behind the change.
Channing Tatum has put his money where his mouth is by cutting ties with Harvey and The Weinstein Company, and is also ditching his role as director of its upcoming project Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock – which is, ironically, a tale of sexual abuse.
“This is a giant opportunity for real positive change that we proudly commit ourselves to,” Channing, 37, says. “Let’s finish what our incredible colleagues started and eliminate abuse from our creative culture once and for all.” Amen to that! n
The director who assaulted me when I was 16... I wish I could tell you that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly it wasn’t – Reese
High-profile women breaking their silence include (left to right) America, Lena, J-law, Rose and Reese
Reese was first assaulted as a teen actress