Hollywood seems perfect with its sultry invites of glitz and glamour. However, it harbors many dark secrets, among them one that Thandie Newton, along with the help of the OneBillionRising campaign, hopes to put an end to: female exploitation and abuse.
The actress told CNN’s Max Foster in a recent interview that as a young woman she experienced several challenges within what she believes is a sexist industry.
An incident that Newton still remembers is when she was asked to strip naked in front of a camera and spread open her legs while another woman watched during a screen test.
“There were two other people in the room: The director, who I’d seen previously, and the casting director, who was a woman. The director asked me to sit with my legs apart, the camera was positioned where it could see up my skirt, [he then asked me] to put my leg over the arm of the chair, and before I started my dialogue to think about the character that I was supposed to be having this dialogue with, and think about how it felt to be made love to by this person. I was thinking this is so strange.”
At the time of the incident, Newton was only 18, but realized that they had crossed boundaries.
“Three years later we were at the Cannes Film Festival and my husband and I bumped into this rather drunk British producer who mentioned the director that I had this audition with….It turned out the director…who I had auditioned for, 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 said in the interview.
Newton believes that she is not alone when it comes to sexual exploitation in Hollywood; it’s a dangerous place that tracks itself from how casting directors make actresses feel to the very roles that they get cased in. Furthermore, abuse and female exploitation is one that occurs silently, Newton says, because people are unwilling to speak up against the misbehavior. By raising awareness, the actress hopes to make people think twice about denigrating women, especially within the entertainment industry, which has such a large influence on society.