There’s been a lot of talk lately about sexism in Hollywood. While we’re continually disappointed to hear about the despicable way women are sometimes treated in the film industry, it’s good that powerful female actors are coming forward and bringing this important discussion to forefront.
In a recent interview with W Magazine, Thandie Newton shared a horrifying story about a Hollywood producer who sexually abused her during an audition. Newton says, “A director, on a callback, had a camera shooting up my skirt and asked me to touch my tits and think about the guy making love to me in the scene. I thought, ‘Ok, this is a little weird,’ but there was a female casting director in the room and I’d done weird stuff before so I did it.”
Newton did not name the filmmaker, and even though the scenario clearly made her uncomfortable, she didn’t realize just how awful his behavior was until after the fact.
Years later at a film festival, a producer who’d had too much to drink admitted that he’d recently seen the footage from her audition. “’Oh, Thandie, I’ve seen you recently!’ And he lurched away looking really shocked that he’d said that,” Newton shared. Her husband confronted the producer and uncovered the rest of the story. Newton said, “It turns out that the director was showing that audition tape to his friends after poker games at his house. And they would all get off on it.”
UGH. What a horrible violation. We’re even more disappointed to think that something like this could happen when a female casting director was in the room at the time of the taping.
Newton is sharing her story in order to protect young actors. She said, “I was so, so naive when I started out and I realize now that we have to prepare our kids – I’ve got two beautiful daughters, one is 16, one is 11. So many people in our business, they don’t want to be the ones to say something that’s a bum out because then they become associated with a bum out and nobody wants to read about so-and-so because they’re always blabbering on about a bum out.” Then she went on to add, “But one person will read this and it will stop them getting sexually abused by a director. That’s the person I’m interested in.”
Props to Thandie Newton for opening up and talking about something that was clearly upsetting. Always remember: If someone asks you to do something that makes you uncomfortable in an audition, or even a job interview, you don’t have to do it. Period.