#MeToo: One working actress fights back

Most actors are not famous, rich or glamorous.  Most of us work for a living.  We are background players, off-broadway performers, low-budget indie film actors.  We are voice actors, we host industrial videos or do the odd commercial.  We work hard.  We make ends meet.

We occupy the same spaces as the celebrities who have spoken out these past weeks.  We meet the same aggressions, but do not have the same platforms or leverage as those whose names are recognized. We work in an industry where objectification and harassment are so normalized that they’re basically rites of passage for young actresses.

But we are not powerless.  We can understand that although we are vulnerable individually, there is strength in our collective voice.  When we understand that we are not each other’s competition, but each other’s assets and opportunities, then we find safer spaces and a way to move forward.   

Screen actors have a union that aims to protect celebrities and background actors alike. We believe that the union could be doing more to protect its members from sexual harassment and assault. That it could work toward policies that stipulate real consequences for these abuses. That it could be a powerful, collective voice that encourages all of its members to recognize and stand against these crimes. We have petitioned our union to work toward these ends.

We have also built a webspace where we can share our stories safely, and anonymously. This website that helps us feel less alone, helps us shed our shame and begin to reclaim our ourselves and our stories.  

We must understand that the industry’s culture of misogyny behind the scenes is reflected in front of the camera, and it affects our audiences and our culture at large.  The belittlement and objectification of women on screen has contributed to a culture of sexual abuse and harassment.  It has contributed to rape culture. Those in media who are speaking up can fight back against sexist culture and the silence that promotes it.  

Those are the ends we pursue.  At any cost.

-Meissa Hampton

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