Jesse Williams has signed up to be naked in ‘Take Me Out’ — not all over our social media

“Jesse Williams looks like a specimen”, said “The View” co-host Sunny Hostin† “He looks beautiful, he looks beautiful, his body is beautiful, and – this is serious – I have at least 20 friends who have now bought tickets because of what they saw.”

The ladies of “The View” are not known for their tactbut Hostin’s comments and the many other inappropriate comments from people on social media struck a chord as Broadway veterans struggle to grapple with the disturbing footage leak in which Williams performs a nude scene in the play “Take Me Out,” produced by Second Stage Theater.

The fact is that Williams was at work when he was sexually harassed by a client who made a video of him without his permission.

The leak, which has been called “sexual harassment and a horrific violation of consent” by the Actors’ Equity Association, is an alarming example of an audience member ignoring an artist’s boundaries and trampling the ethos of a performance space. Unfortunately, violations like this are all too common when it comes to celebrities. The difference is that instead of a lecherous paparazzo peering over a gate in Cabo, this is a spectator using a cell phone during a paid performance — and cell phones had to be placed in locked containers supplied by the theater.

Kate Shindle, president of the Actors’ Equity Association, summed up the key question: “As actors we regularly agree to be vulnerable on stage to tell difficult and challenging stories. This doesn’t mean we agree that those vulnerable moments are widely shared by anyone who feels like sneaking a recording device into the theater.”

Williams co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson also spoke out about the incidentcriticizing those who took part in the leak: “I am shocked by the disrespect shown to the actors of our company whose vulnerability on stage once[y] night is crucial to “Take Me Out”. Anyone who applauds or downplays this behavior has no place in the theatre, which has always been a safe place for performers and audiences.”

The word that keeps popping up is “vulnerable” – and it’s a good word to use in this situation. Because in a live performance setting, actors are vulnerable. The screen is gone. You can storm the stage if you’re unhinged enough. And in the Williams situation, you can make a video of a naked actor so you can objectify him on the internet.

Unfortunately, for actors, who make a career out of being outward-looking and public, sexual harassment comes with territory — and it shouldn’t.

Unfortunately, for actors, who make a career out of being outward-looking and public, sexual harassment comes with territory — and it shouldn’t. Being an artist gives the audience a sense of sharing an intimate relationship with the actor – or it reduces the actor to an object without feelings or a life outside the performance space.

The retarded rhetoric we see on some social media threads – “Oh, well, he’s naked on stage. He should know things like this could happen,” – sounds like the old well-known misogynist standard “She asked about it.” The fact is that Williams was at work when he was sexually harassed by a client who made a video of him without his permission. Then those images were distributed over the internet, making that violation global.

This always happens to women. Recently, according to a viral TikTok, Sydney Sweeney was… stimulated by a cameraman who seemingly yelled, “Show us those boobs!” while attending the 2022 Met Gala. Sweeney, who appears topless on HBO’s “Euphoria,” is clearly not her character, and she’s under no obligation to show her boobs to anyone, despite the show’s viewers may think they have some sort of property over her body. .

It’s similar to Williams. His performance in “Take Me Out” as a gay baseball player requires him to be naked in key scenes that take place in a locker room. In theater, nudity can be very powerful and enhance the performance, creating a shared intimacy between the audience and the actors. An actor’s choice to appear naked on stage is not an implicit agreement to be naked everywhere. By making and distributing that video, the cameraman took that choice away from Williams.

In a conversation with Andy Cohen that happened before the leak, Williams spoke of how nudity was just part of the part he played: “And everyone makes such a big deal. It’s a body. Once you see it, you realize, whatever. It’s a body. I just shouldn’t make such a big deal of it.”

It shouldn’t be a bad thing for an artist to be naked on stage. But it should be a big deal to cross the boundaries set by the theater and production company to keep an actor safe and comfortable — and be able to do his job without worrying about being sexually assaulted. being harassed and victimized by the public.

Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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