It’s been four months since The New York Times’ bombshell story outlining sexual harassment claims against Harvey Weinstein shook Hollywood and inspired more women to come forward.
Shortly after the allegations broke, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o detailed an encounter with Weinstein that left her uncomfortable and dismayed. And since then, scores of women and men in the industry have shared their experiences of sexual misconduct at the hands of men like actor Kevin Spacey, chef and restaurateur Mario Batali, and music mogul Russell Simmons.
While a stream of actresses chimed in to say, “Me Too,” most of them have been white. But now that’s changing.
Recently, eight Black women and one Asian American woman accused Vincent Cirrincione — an agent known to some as an “important gatekeeper for Black actresses” looking to break into the business — of sexual harassment. Cirrincione has worked Halle Berry and Taraji P. Henson and, according to The Washington Post story, would use his relationships with the award-winning actresses to lure more women into his company.
While Berry reportedly cut ties with Cirrincione years ago, Henson continued to work with him until the allegations became public. And though the actress said Cirrincione “totally respected” her, Henson threw her support behind the women.
“Everyone knows how difficult this industry has been for women and my hope is that all of these unspeakable events ignite true change in the treatment of women in this entertainment business,” Henson wrote on Instagram.
As for Berry, she said she broke off her relationship with Cirrincione two years ago after hearing rumors about his behavior.
“Over three years ago, a woman was on the radio saying that Halle Berry’s manager was her worst casting couch experience ever. That news literally stopped me in my tracks,” she said. “I immediately confronted Vince about it, and he denied it completely. But even with his denial, something didn’t feel right in my spirit, and with the possibility that it could be true, I immediately ended our over-25-year relationship.”
Berry also issued a statement on social media after the women came forward to accuse Cirrincione of harassment.
Breaking into Hollywood can be difficult for Black women, who are often cast less and are paid lower than their white counterparts. This can lead many of them to stay silent about the harassment and indignities they suffer at the hands of those with more power.
Hopefully, things are changing.
“True art can only be created in an environment of vulnerability and trust,” Henson wrote on Instagram. “If you continue to decimate the trust, you lose the beauty of the art.”