In Variety’s new “Power of Women” issue, actress and activist Ashley Judd claims she was sexually harassed by one of Hollywood’s “most famous, admired-slash-rivaled bosses” in the late 1990s.
During the interview, Judd opened up about a powerful industry executive she alleges made sexual advances towards her while filming Kiss the Girls, saying she was lured to the unidentified man’s hotel room, and asked to help pick up his clothes and watch him shower.
“In that moment, I told him something like, ‘When I win an Academy Award in one of your movies,'” she recalled. “He said, ‘No, when you get nominated.’ I said, ‘No, no, when I win an Academy Award.’ That was a small moment of power when I was able to contradict him and hold to my reality. And then I got out of there. And by the way, I’ve never been offered a movie by that studio. Ever.”
Judd said she later discovered several other actresses shared shared similar experiences with the unnamed executive.
“Only when we were sitting around talking about it did we realize our experiences were identical,” she said. “There was a mutual strengthening and fortification of our resolve.”
“One of the things that comes to mind for me: there was a really big feature that was done on this person in a national magazine, and there were all these allegations that they controlled the interview and had people listening in,” she continued. “And I thought, “If someone had come and talked to me, I don’t care. I will absolutely share that experience.’ Part of the strategy that keeps girls and women constrained in their professional experience is retaliation and ridicule.”
Judd said it took her many years to realize there was something “incredibly wrong and illegal” about the alleged incident.
“I think that’s what’s happening in Hollywood with regard to female crew members, above-the-line and below-the-line talent, and pay disparity,” she said.
“We’re individually and collectively coming to a realization and acceptance that this is an entrenched part of the reality, and I think that talking about it is essential to the process of becoming aware, accepting that this is reality and then ultimately taking action,” Judd explained.
Read Judd’s comments in full here.
Judd became the center of a heated national debate about free speech on social media earlier this year, after she threatened to sue Twitter users who sent her crude messages during the college basketball’s SEC Tournament championship game.
“When I express a stout opinion during #MarchMadness I am called a whore, c—, threatened with sexual violence. Not okay,” she tweeted at the time.
The actress later penned an essay on Mic.com, in which she explained her reasoning for pressing charges against “Twitter trolls.”
“I am a survivor of sexual assault, rape and incest,” she wrote. “I am greatly blessed that in 2006, other thriving survivors introduced me to recovery. I seized it. My own willingness, partnered with a simple kit of tools, has empowered me to take the essential odyssey from undefended and vulnerable victim to empowered survivor.”