No one should feel unsafe at work just because of their sex. Unfortunately, women are preyed on most of the time than their male counterparts. The only way to put an end to such practices is to speak up against them.
Jurnee Smollett has recently shed light on her experiences as a Black woman on film and television sets. She said she has been sexually harassed on sets since she was a preteen.
The Eve’s Bayou actress said regardless of the fact that her experience in the industry spans three decades and was put in front of the cameras at 10 months for a commercial shoot, she is not immune to the toxic culture in the entertainment business.
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“I don’t know that I can confidently say that I worked on one job prior to Lovecraft [Country]—from the time I was 12 on—where I hadn’t been sexually harassed, whether it was by an AD, a co-star, director, producer,” she revealed to The Hollywood Reporter.
Smollett’s first acting gig was at age three and since then she admits there were certain instances where she was not harassed.
“I don’t know that I can confidently say that I worked on one job prior to Lovecraft—from the time I was 12 on—where I hadn’t been sexually harassed, whether it was by an [assistant director], a co-star, director, producer…” she said.
After her interview with THR where she appears on the cover of its August issue, she later requested to amend her initial statement which was more of a generalization of every set she had been on. She said there were some instances where she was not made to feel uncomfortable at work.
Some moments are hard to forget, according to Smollett, who said a co-star made inappropriate remarks about her body moments before they shot an intimate scene.
“Like, a guy saying before we’re about to do this love scene, ‘Hey, your tits are going to be hanging in the wind,’ is not okay,” she said.
According to Smollett, there was another incident on another set where the sexual harassment she experienced was overwhelmingly unbearable to the point where she forcibly asked to be released from her contract. “And they let me out,” she recalled.
The Lovecraft Country actress admits she got angry when her agent dismissed the incident. His response was, “oh, you know, he’s just being a man.”
It is important to note that the fear of being dismissed, stigmatised, or called a liar when one reports a sexual harassment incident is what keeps people from speaking up.
With the #MeToo movement and a lot of women speaking up about their ordeals, Smollett and these women are change makers in our world today. They are part of a community of women who will not hesitate to use their voice and platform to create change.
“And we’re no longer asking for a seat at the table,” she said. “We’re building our own motherfucking table.”
Smollett did not mince words after signing on to Lovecraft Country as she told the producers that all sexual banter would not be tolerated.
“And I don’t apologize,” she said. “I’ll be like, ‘Listen, this fake-ass sexual harassment meeting that we’re having, I’m going to raise my hand now and let you guys know that the standards that they’re setting are bare minimum.'”