The dark side of the industry.

Apologies, apologies! I have been extremely busy over the last week and rather exhausted and unfortunately haven’t had time to write! However, I am rather glad for the break as I have been preparing to write this blog which focuses on the news that has sickened many over the last week or so.

I have two words for you: Harvey Weinstein.

For anyone who doesn’t know about the allegations against this vile human because they’ve somehow missed the news, or have been living under a rock for the past week, here’s a summary for you.

Harvey Weinstein is a vile, manipulative and predatory man who thinks he can control women and bully them into sexual acts against their will whilst threatening their position in the industry.

Hollywood may portray itself as a glamorous place that you go to live out your wildest dreams. However, Hollywood has hidden demons within its folds and Harvey Weinstein is not the only one hiding there. For me, the allegations against Weinstein are shocking, the amount of women who have come forward (and still are) is horrifying. However, we are not blind and we are not fools. The industry is full of predatory individuals like Weinstein. It doesn’t matter if they have raped 1 woman or 50 women, it still counts.

Take Jimmy Savile for instance. We all know what went on there. Investigators were lead to believe that Savile preyed upon around 500 vulnerable victims who were as young as two years old. These incidents took place within the BBC broadcasting studios, hospitals and even children’s hospitals. He sexual abused hundreds of women and children from 1955 – 2009 (according to Police recordings). The fact that these women and children were living in the dark for so long is saddening. I can’t even imagine being in a position where I felt afraid to come forward and tell my story to the Police. No one should ever be afraid.

So, let’s just take a look at the women who have currently come forward and have made an allegation against Weinstein:

  • Italian Actor Asia Argento – raped by Weinstein when she was 21 years old, she is now 42 years old.
  • British Actor Lysette Anthony – raped by Weinstein in the late 1980s, she is now 54 years old.
  • Then aspiring Actor Lucia Evans (then Stoller) – was forced to perform oral sex on Weinstein in 2004, she is now 35 years old.
  • Actor Gwyneth Paltrow – was 22 when Weinstein asked her to give him a massage and when she refused told her not to tell anyone else, she is now 45 years old.
  • Actor Angelina Jolie – in the late 1990s fought off unwanted advances from Weinstein, she is now 42 years old.
  • Anonymous actor claims that Weinstein raped her.
  • Actor Mira Sorvino – in 1995 Weinstein began to massage her shoulders and chased her around a hotel room, she is now 50 years old.
  • Actor Rosanna Arquette – Weinstein told her he needed a massage and forcibly pulled her hand towards his erect penis, she is now 58 years old.
  • Fillipina – Italian Model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez – was 22 years old when Weinstein groped her breasts and attempted to put his hands up her skirt, she is now 24 years old.
  • Model and writer Zoe Brock – when she was 23 Weinstein took off all of his clothes, asked her for a massage and nakedly chased her around a hotel room, unsure of her current age.
  • Actor Katherine Kendall – was 23 years old when Weinstein asked for a massage in a bathrobe, got naked and chased her around a hotel room, she is now 48 years old.
  • Psychologist Tomi-Ann Roberts – was 20 years old when Weinstein was nude in the bath and encouraged her to get naked in front of him in order to be given an acting job, unsure of her current age.
  • American Actor Ashley Judd – was 20 years old, Weinstein asked for a massage in a bath robe and asked her to watch him shower, she is now 49 years old.
  • French Actor Emma de Caunes – in 2010 Weinstein walked naked from the shower with an erection and told her to lie on the bed, she is now 41 years old.
  • British Actor Romola Garai – was 18 years old when Weinstein auditioned her whilst he was only wearing a bathrobe, she is now 35 years old.
  • Costume Designer Dawn Dunning – was 24 and an aspiring actor when Weinstein sat in a bathrobe and propositioned her by asking her to have 3-way sex with him in order for her to sign 3 acting contracts, unsure of her current age.
  • Actor Rose McGowan – reached a settlement with Weinstein after an encounter in a hotel, she is now 44 years old.
  • Former Fox News Host Lauren Sivan – in 2007 Weinstein trapped her in a closed restaurant and masturbated in front of her, she is now 39 years old.
  • Writer and artist Liza Campbell – Weinstein told her to get in the bath with him, she is now 58 years old.
  • French Actor Lea Seydoux – in 2012 Weinstein lunged at her and tried to kiss her on the lips, she is now 32 years old.
  • British Actor Claire Forlani – Weinstein suggested massage and she fought off his advances, he also told her of all the actresses he had slept with, she is now 45 years old.
  • Canadian Actor Erika Rosenbaum – around 15 years ago Weinstein masturbated behind her whilst holding her neck, she had 3 separate encounters with him, she is now 37 years old.
  • Screenwriter and Actor Louisette Geiss – in 2008 Weinstein grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her to the bathroom pleading with her to watch him masturbate, unsure of her current age.
  • Actor and Model Cara Delevingne – Weinstein encouraged her to kiss another woman in front of him and tried to kiss her himself, she is now 25 years old.
  • English Actor Sophie Dix – was 22 years old when Weinstein attacked her in a hotel, she is now 48 years old.
  • Actor Eva Green – fought off advances from Weinstein – she is now 37 years old.
  • Singer and model Myleene Klass – was 32 years old when Weinstein offered her a sex contract, she is now 39 years old.
  • Actor Heather Graham – Weinstein implied that she had to have sex with him in order to get a film role, she is now 47 years old.

The majority of these incidents occurred when Wenstein had either set up an audition in his hotel room, or asked the individual to meet at his hotel due to him “running late”. Obviously Weinstein has denied all of the above allegations and has said that all of the sexual encounters he has had have been consensual.

It’s horrifying isn’t it? How someone who is probably one of the most powerful men in the industry can treat women like this and seemingly get away with it for so long. It’s harmful how some of the actors never came forward at the time due to the detriment it could have on their careers and the fact Weinstein had that hold over them. The amount of careers that suffered after rejecting advances from Weinstein is hideous. The fear that this man has instilled into many women is staggering. He is a predator and a bully.

An extremely interesting interview to watch about this topic is the interview with Emma Thompson on BBC Newsnight. She is a very brave and bold woman and she has a lot to share about these revelations. You can watch the interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XV_W6kPqR9U

The only fortunate event to come out of all  is that actors have finally come forward and have opened up about their experiences. Weinstein has been fired from his own company ‘The Weinstein Company’ and  has been expelled from the ‘Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ among other things.

I think one of the main (unfortunate) reasons that many actors did not come forward is because Weinstein works on such prestigious films and his praise and approval can really shoot you up the career ladder in terms of getting more and more successful work. For many, they had a fear of speaking out because of the negative implications it could have on not only their careers, but themselves. What saddens me further is that many, many actors knew what was going on. They knew that Weinstein and others were abusing individuals with their power and people just let them get away with it. They turned a blind eye and let them carry on. Horrendous.

Recently the hashtag #MeToo has been trending worldwide on Twitter and Facebook. It asks for women to share the hashtag if they have been sexually harassed or assaulted in order to try and give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. There were a hell of a lot of women who came froward, sharing the hashtag and giving their own personal stories, which is very brave. Even men were getting involved. It definitely took social media by storm. Hopefully now something will be done?

Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone of the Royal Court Theatre has programmed a day of action in response to the Weinstein revelations. She says:

“Following last week’s revelations concerning Harvey Weinstein it is time to confront the abuses of power that have been occurring in our own industry for years.”

Featherstone has set up and led major arts organisations over the last 20 years and has very clear policies on how to manage such abuses of power. She claims that:

“Sexual harassment, predominantly carried out by those in power to people in positions junior the them, is systemic. It is across every part of our society. If it is not dealt with in an open way we have no hope to change, and change must happen.”

On Saturday 28th October 2017 two events will be held. One of which is an industry-wide Town Hall session which aims to pass on what has been learnt and the policies that have been agreed on from it and also to learn best practise from peers. The second event is a sharing. This will allow individuals who want their stories to be heard to tell them. The Royal Court have also set up an online forum where you can share your stories.

Even last week a particular casting director put out a “casting” asking for school girls to attend. He claims to have booked space at Meridian High School in Croydon, where he would be holding the auditions. A particular member of British Actors Network (BAN) contacted the school in order to check this out and it was made apparent that no rooms had been booked whatsoever. Dodgy? Absolutely. It was safe to say that many shared tweets warning others not to attend this so called “casting”.

What have we learnt from all of this? That Weinstein is a criminal? Yes, yes he is. We have also learnt that this grey area of sexual assault needs to be ironed out and dealt with. You can’t walk through life holding a secret of abuse to your chest. You need to tell people. You need to get your story out there and get the right people condemned for their actions.

I really do hope Harvey Weinstein goes to prison for a very long time. Let’s work together to try and make our industry a better place. No more please, no more.

 

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