While many of us were sipping wine and celebrating love on Valentine’s Day, yesterday was also the day that the One Billion Rising campaign took place. The movement is a call to end violence, specifically against women, and for justice and gender equality. As the website for the campaign says, one and three women will be raped or beaten during her life. And seeing the prevalence of violence against women these days, according to the Huffington Post, about 190 countries took part in rallies where people came out and danced together to show collective support. One person who took part in showing support was actress Thandie Newton, who decided to share her story of the abuse she says she had to deal with as a young woman trying to make it in the entertainment industry.
Speaking with CNN, Newton says, “When I was a 16-year-old fresh from boarding school going out in, you know, the casting couch, I was definitely objectified to an extreme.” And the objectification continued when she turned 18. Newton spoke about an incident where she went to an audition, a second screen test for a movie role, and literally had a camera put up her skirt:
“The director asked me to sit with my legs apart, and the camera was positioned where it could see up my skirt. I had 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. I was thinking, ‘This is so strange, why would I need to do that?’ But this is the director, there is the casting director, it must be normal.”
It wasn’t of course. And to Newton’s horror, she later found out during a party at Cannes just a few years ago, which she attended with her husband, producer Oliver Parker, that this same director slimeball had been showing the video at his home during late night gatherings and soirees. “‘It turned out the director… used to show that video late at night to interested parties at his house – a video of me touching myself with a camera up my skirt.” She found out when a drunken producer approached her and told her that he had seen it.
Newton never revealed the name of the producer who did these things to her, and according to Daily Mail UK, didn’t say whether or not he still worked in the business, but the whole ordeal is what pushed her to be involved with One Billion Rising. We know that she’s come a long way, and hopefully other people will be able to learn from her story, and not to let themselves be exploited and disrespected in such a manner when trying to break into the business–any business.
Check out Newton speaking about her ordeal as a young actress with CNN journalist Max Foster below.