“Grey’s Anatomy” alum Jesse Williams is keeping his cool about the leaked video and pictures of his onstage nude scene in the Broadway play “Take Me Out”. While the incident has elicited an outcry from the show’s producers and the union that represents actors and stage managers, Williams is not letting it ruffle his feathers.
The video leaked Monday and since then, the theatre has upped its security measures. Here’s what Williams and the others had to say.
Jesse Williams Is ‘Not Down About It’
The fact is, anytime an actor or celebrity’s nude images or videos are leaked online, without their explicit consent, it’s a case of sexual harassment. But Williams is not letting this incident pull him down.
“Take Me Out” is a revival of Richard Greenberg’s exploration of what happens when a Major League Baseball superstar comes out as gay, and it’s mostly filmed in an MLB locker room. There is nudity, yes, but Williams said, “It’s not salacious. It serves the story. It puts the audience in an interesting position to relate, to empathize with, the characters.”
But he’s also not letting the leak affect him as he gave a statement to AP, “I’m not down about it. Our job is to go out there every night, no matter what. I’m not really worrying about it. I can’t sweat that. We do need to keep advocating for ourselves. And it’s wonderful to see a community push back and make clear what we do stand for, what we don’t.”
Many Have Strongly Condemned The Leak
The video leaked Monday, just as Williams’ performance as gay professional baseball player Darren Lemming earned him a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a play. The other nominees include his costars Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Michael Oberholtzer.
Ferguson was also one of the first to stand up for Williams and denigrate the leak, tweeting, “I’m appalled by the disrespect shown to the actors of our company whose vulnerability on stage ever[y] night is crucial to Take Me Out.”
I’m appalled by the disrespect shown to the actors of our company whose vulnerability on stage ever night is crucial to Take Me Out. Anyone who applauds or trivializes this behavior has no place in the theater which has always been a safe space for artists & audience members. https://t.co/eYEqbQBrc6
— Jesse Tyler Ferguson (he/him/his) (@jessetyler) May 10, 2022
Meanwhile, the Actors Equity Association also issued a statement, saying, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the creation and distribution of photographs and videos of our members during a nude scene. As actors, we regularly agree to be vulnerable on stage in order to tell difficult and challenging stories. This does not mean that we agree to have those vulnerable moments widely shared by anyone who feels like sneaking a recording device into the theater.”
Second Stage Theater also issued a statement, “Second Stage Theater has worked to ensure the privacy of the Take Me Out company by creating a phone-free space with locked phone cases at all performances. We are appalled that this policy has been violated and unauthorized footage of our acting company has been posted. It is deeply unfortunate that one audience member chose to disrespect the production, their fellow audience members, and, most importantly, the cast in this manner.
Williams Emphasizes Consent
Many are seeing this incident as a continuation of the trend set by Will Smith when he strode on the stage at the 2022 Academy Awards and socked Chris Rock, incensed at a joke the comedian cracked about his wife. This was followed by the Dave Chappelle attack, and now the nude scene leak of Jesse Willaims is being seen as the privacy or well-being of a performer being put in jeopardy.
Wiliams also continued to say, “Theater is a sacred space, and everybody doesn’t understand that. Everybody doesn’t necessarily respect or regard that in a way that maybe they should, or we’d like.”
The actor does make a valid point when he also added, “Consent is important, I thought. So, let’s keep that in mind universally.”