Oprah Winfrey appeared on CBS This Morning Tuesday, where she explained why she decided to step away from the upcoming Russell Simmons documentary, which details years of alleged sexual misconduct at the hands of the music mogul.
Filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s previously untitled documentary, On The Record, is set to premiere at Sundance this week, but Winfrey’s recent decision to step away from the project has stirred up some controversy.
During her appearance on CBS This Morning, Winfrey said the documentary had “some inconsistencies in the stories that we need to look at.”
The media mogul also confirmed that she was not pressured by Simmons to leave the project.
“It was a hard decision because I knew that Russell Simmons had started publicly pressuring me [on social media] and that me pulling out of the documentary was going to look like I was being pressured,” she began.
Indeed, last month Russell shared in an Instagram caption that he found it “troubling” that Winfrey had joined the documentary, which is slated to be released on Apple TV+ , as an executive producer.
Calling himself a “playboy” and a “womanizer” in the lengthy caption, Russell continued to deny all sexual assault allegations levied against him by several women, writing: “I have taken and passed nine 3-hour lie detector tests,” he continued. “These stories are UNUSABLE.”
Winfrey said Tuesday, however, that “this is not a victory for Russell, and I unequivocally say that I did not pull out because of Russell. This is not a victory lap for him. I cannot be silenced by Russell Simmons after all I’ve been through.”
The media mogul added that it’s important she be open about her support of the women who have come forward.
“I believe the women’s voices deserve to be heard,” Winfrey said, before adding, “As an executive producer, I was also in a position where I think things were not right. I wanted the context of the story to be broadened, I wanted more women to be brought in.”
On The Record focuses on music executive Drew Dixon, whose life and career are forever changed by the abuse she allegedly faced from men in the industry.
The film premieres at Sundance on January 25.