The gorgeous and talented British actress Thandie Newton (For Colored Girls, Pursuit of Happyness) recently opened up about an issue that has plagued the entertainment industry for many years. “The Casting Couch.” Thandie admits, when she was young and trying to become an actress, a demented casting director sexually abused her. Like many young people trying to break into show business, Thandie did what he asked because he made her believe it was the only way to get the part. The director then passed around her audition tape to his industry friends to further exploit her. Listen Up: There is never only one way to make your dreams come true. Never trust an “industry” person that tries to make you take off your clothes, expose yourself, meet them in a unusual place (like their home), threatens you or makes you feel uncomfortable!! It is not worth it. Report them and find the RIGHT way to pursue your dreams.
I once met a “producer” who told me he had a script for me to read. He asked me to come to his house to audition because he needed to put me on tape and the camera was set up in his studio at his house. I told him that I would not meet him at his home and I’d come to his office to audition. He began to yell at me and told me that he would ruin my career and have me black-listed in the industry for being so stupid and turning down this opportunity. I hung up the phone. A few weeks later, there was a phone call from the FBI. They said the man was on the Wanted list for sexually abusing young girls, beating them and leaving them for dead. If I hadn’t have followed my instincts and listened to him…I may not be here today. Never become so eager to suceed that you risk your life for an “opportunity.”
Listen to Thandie’s story below:
In an interview on CNN Thursday, actress Thandie Newton spoke out about an abusive casting director who exploited her when she was just 18.
Newton described the “horrific” incident as an example of the pervasive sexism in the film industry, sharing her story to support the One Billion Rising project, a worldwide campaign founded by playwright Eve Ensler that protests violence against women. The British actress, then at the beginning of her career, was at a screen test for a project when the casting director began acting inappropriately.
Because of the professional environment and her inexperience in the industry, Newton said, she was confused about how to respond. “The director asked me to sit with my legs apart, and the camera was positioned where it could see up my skirt,” Newton, 40, told CNN’s Max Foster.
“[He asked me to] put my leg over the arm of the chair, and before I started my dialogue, think about the character I was supposed to be having the dialogue with and how it felt to be made love to by this person.”
The director then asked Newton to touch herself and zoomed in between her legs. Another female director in the room did nothing to intervene, Newton said.
Newton later discovered that the director was circulating the video among other industry moguls, showing interest parties the exploitative clip for entertainment. A producer at Cannes Film Festival boasted to Newton and her husband, Oliver Parker, about having seen the footage.
Though Newton declined to name the director, she noted that it was only the most extreme incident in a long chain of uncomfortable situations.
“I was definitely objectified to an extreme,” Newton explained.
The star told Foster that she had been scarred deeply by “the way I was exploited and the kind of role and the kinds of things I was expected to do in auditions.”
“It’s really bizarre that violence against women isn’t a number one priority,” the ‘Good Deeds’ actress noted. Newton isn’t the only celebrity speaking out for One Billion Rising this week.
Newton joined One Billion Rising in a flash mob protest outside of British Parliament on Valentine’s Day, an event that marked the 15th anniversary of the group’s founding. Other factions of the organization gathered Thursday in some 200 countries including Ethiopia, Nepal, Afghanistan, India and Congo as part of a global day of action.