Jurnee Smollett Says She’s Been Sexually Harassed In Hollywood Since She Was 12
Jurnee Smollett | Jeff Spicer/Getty

Jurnee Smollett, star of HBO’s forthcoming Lovecraft Country, revealed she has been sexually harassed on film and television sets since she was a preteen.  Despite the fact she has been acting since she was 3 years old, her longevity in the entertainment business did not protect her from its toxic culture.

“I don’t know that I can confidently say that I worked on one job prior to Lovecraft [Country]—from the time I was 12 on—where I hadn’t been sexually harassed, whether it was by an AD, a co-star, director, producer,” she revealed to The Hollywood Reporter.

Reportedly Smollett later requested that THR, where she appears on the cover of its August 5 issue, amend her statement after she was able to recall a small amount of instances where she was not made to feel uncomfortable at work. She noted that one co-star made an appalling remark about her body shortly before they shot an intimate scene. 

“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 okay,” she said. 

Smollett also shared that on one occasion the sexual harassment she experienced was so unbearable that she was forced to ask to be released from her contract. “And they let me out,” she recalled.

Jurnee Smollett, actress in Lovecraft Country, joins a slew of Black women in Hollywood during the ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Awards
BEVERLY HILLS – FEBRUARY 23: Former ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca, Quvenzhane Wallis, Yara Shahidi, Aja Naomi King, Danielle Brooks, Shonda Rhimes, Vicky Jeudy, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Tracee Ellis Ross, Essence Communications President Michelle Ebanks, Issa Rae, Janelle Monáe, Angela Bassett, Diahann Carroll, Alfre Woodard and Loretta Devine at ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 23, 2017, in Beverly Hills. (Photo: Rich Polk/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

Smollett was angry with her agent’s dismissive response to the incident. She noted that she was told, “Oh, you know, he’s just being a man.”

Today, Smollett is a part of a community of women vowing to use their voices to create change for the next generation of artists.

“And we’re no longer asking for a seat at the table,” she said. “We’re building our own motherfucking table.”

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