Monday, in a CBS Morning interview with Gayle King, Winfrey defended her decision to pull out of producing the documentary, On The Record, a film about allegations against music execs Russell Simmons and L.A. Reid. Despite no longer working on the film, Winfrey still supports and believes the women.
“I have lived ‘#MeToo’ since I was nine years old. I was raped at nine. I was sexually assaulted from nine to fourteen and then raped again at fourteen. And, nothing is harder than standing up for yourself when you’re fourteen and not have anyone believe you,” Winfrey told King.
“I stand in support of these women,” she continued. “I believe them.”
When Winfrey initially signed on to executive produce the documentary, she was met with backlash by Simmons. Rapper 50 Cent also blasted Winfrey for only going after Black men, while not highlighting white men who too have faced sexual allegations.
So, Winfrey knew when she decided to pull out the documentary that it would appear that she did so because of public pressure. But she assured CBS Morning viewers that her decision was what was best for her.
“For me, in all experiences in my life, and particularly when I’m in a crisis, the only question for me is ‘what is the right thing to do for me,’” Winfrey said.
And, what was right for Winfrey was producing a documentary that she felt was done right.
Filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering plan to premiere the documentary at the Sundance Film Festival this week, despite Winfrey’s request to pull the film from the premiere until they cleared up “some inconsistencies in the stories.” Winfrey wanted to make sure that the women’s stories were told correctly.
“I believe that the women’s voices deserve to be heard,” Winfrey said. “I’ve always been in the position as an Executive Producer where if I say, ‘I want changes,’ usually those are done. What this has taught me is don’t put your name on anything that you do not have creative control over.”
Gayle mentioned that some people might perceive Winfrey’s stepping away as a “victory for Russell,” to which Winfrey chimed in, “This is not a victory for Russell, and I unequivocally say, I did not pull out because of Russell. This is not a victory lap for him. I can not be silenced by a Russell Simmons after all I’ve been through.”
Winfrey continued, “I stand with the women. I support the women, and I do hope people will see the film.”
The On The Record will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, January 25 at 5:30 pm, at The MARC Theatre and Park City Theaters.
Russell Simmons has denied all allegations.
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