Jurnee Smollett expressed how she has been sexually harassed on film and television since she was a preteen. Although she has been acting since the age of three, her extensive background in the entertainment industry did not shield her from its toxic society.
During her recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the Roll Bounce cast member talked about obstacles she’s dealt with as a Black woman working in the entertainment business. She also spoke about pay discrepancies, the involuntary and apparent steps to eliminate Blackness, and the sexual harassment she’s encountered half of her career.
Smollett shared with THR reporter Lacey Rose that before her upcoming HBO series, Lovecraft Country, she has only been on one set where she did not encounter any sexual harassment.
“I don’t know that I can confidently say that I worked on one job before 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 stated.
The 33-year-old has had a successful career in Hollywood. She’s starred in Eve’s Bayou, Roll Bounce, Gridiron Gang (2006), and recently Birds of Prey.
“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 OK,” she said, before expressing why she had stepped away from a project due to misconduct being so bad.
“And they let me out.”
“And I don’t apologize,” she stated. “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 the bare minimum.'”
Lovecraft Countrypremieres on HBO, August 16.