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We’ve been hearing the notable instances of sexual assault in Hollywood. However, I’d like to illustrate the choices those who ‘haven’t made it’ face, those who are told they must do it in order to have a career. They don’t.
Emma Thompson is my hero. Years ago she stood up to Harvey Weinstein, calling him out for “being misogynist and a bully, and really (giving) him a hard time,” after he told Hayley Atwell she looks like a fat pig onscreen and should stop eating so much.
I constantly hold Emma Thompson as a role model for women, as she has the reputation for standing up for what she believes in and for females in film. I want more stories like this. Of women being total bad-asses and standing up for themselves.
Now that the cat’s out of the bag because of a few brave women, named and successful actresses are stepping forward after being silent for years about the abuse they have suffered at the hands of certain decision makers in the film industry.
But this is at a safe point when they now have nothing to lose, their careers won’t suffer from speaking out because they have already “made it”.
But what about the actresses who are still trying to make it in the film industry?
We are just chatting about it over salad and reflecting on how awful the industry can be. But we only talk about it within our friend circle. God forbid it gets out otherwise; it spells death for our careers. This is the norm, and quite frankly we are all doing it.
Misogyny, sexual harassment, abuse, not to mention highly inappropriate audition scenes in hotel rooms; I know it’s far too common. And Harvey Weinstein is one of many.
The actors, talented and worthy actors who are trying to make a name for themselves, are silent, because they fear they will not get an acting job for speaking up against sexism. They will risk everything they have worked for, before they have even made it. The repeated mentality, “If I let this one moment go, then I might book the job and then I won’t have to take that kind of behaviour anymore”.
I feel like one of those actors and I don’t want to be one of those actors. I don’t want to ignore this issue because I am scared it will cost me my career.
Sexism, abuse, harassment and manipulation are never okay.
It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. I know people from both sexes who have taken advantage of actors and manipulated them beyond belief. Bullies of the industry who have put down actors to such a point where they are so scared to speak up for themselves. We’ve all heard the threat “you’ll never work in this industry again”. And right there is our kryptonite as there is so much at stake.
Actors are incredibly vulnerable in the early stages of their careers.
A common situation comes to mind, where I have had to feign politeness by laughing off objectifying and inappropriate comments about my body. Ignoring the hand that is touching my lower back and my knee, out of pure fear of being blacklisted for upsetting the hierarchy. Don’t get me wrong – the minute I smelt a rat I was out of there, but did I call them out on their behaviour? No.
Fear held me back. Fear, and the consequences that come with speaking up for yourself, kept me quiet.
And for many actors who have worked so hard for so long – calling them out on their lack of respect isn’t worth losing the job. Sadly. So we are taught to be polite and play along with the banter, but at whose expense?
Also on The Big Smoke
- The Weinstein post-mortem: Boys will be boys, but seldom men
- To catch a Weinstein, one must seemingly crucify irrelevant antagonists
- Weinstein’s company: What becomes of those who kept it quiet?
We must say no to predatory manipulation together. If it costs you a job or that relationship – that’s okay. No job is worth losing your integrity and self worth.
As I sit here typing this, I laugh at my own hypocrisy. “My manager is going to kill me, this is going to come back and haunt me. I will lose a job because I have written this.” Leaning in to the perpetual cycle of letting bad behaviour go unnoticed. My management are actually incredibly strong women and would undoubtedly agree with my sentiments.
And I guarantee someone will read this one day and refuse me a job because of it and yes, it scares me to death. But hopefully, the job refusal will be a protection against working for someone who doesn’t respect women in this industry.