At first It was difficult to tell whether he was attracted to me; he was so much older than me that I brushed the thought away. But then, one day, while we were discussing my TV show, he placed his hand on my leg. I wasn’t scared or anything I just thought, how do I stop him in a professional way that won’t jeopardize any career opportunities later on? It’s not as though I had a human resources department—it was just me and him. It was my project that he had come to work on. Nothing more came of the situation.
Time passed and we grew frustrated with one another—with how we worked together, not frustrated in a sexual or romantic way, at least not for me.
Fast forward: He recruits me to be a production assistant on a short film he was directing. I missed being on set, so I agreed. He kept trying to kiss me. First of all, you don’t do that in a professional setting, even if two people are in a relationship. Second, I did not give him any indication he could try to kiss me. I didn’t kiss him, I backed away. It was in clear sight of others, too. He wasn’t touchy-feely with anyone else, just me.
Fast forward again: The same man and I were recruited to work together once more—this time to be part of a live-action TV series. He was the director brought on after me and the rest of the writing team. The entire writing team disagreed a great deal with him on how the script ought to be changed. At that point, I was the only woman on the writing team.
He was irritable with the guys, too, but it certainly felt as though he was targeting me. I tried earnestly to conduct myself professionally and work properly as a team, especially when explaining my criticism of his work—work that should have been left to the writing team, not him. I was in no way timid. I spoke my truth. I ended up quitting because, at the time, I had so much stress in my personal life that I couldn’t deal with him.
At that point, he was tarnishing his reputation in the industry, so I had little concern about him retaliating when I quit. I was more annoyed with him than I was threatened.
I later started to talk about sexual harassment in the film industry. Some people have stated that we need protocols about how people should professionally deal with these issues.
In so many situations, the reason people are not aggressive in saying, “No, back off,” has nothing to do with them being timid and everything to do with fear of risking their jobs.
I’ve already heard so many horror stories from others that mine does not even compare—it’s extremely mild. But it doesn’t matter if it’s something as small as what happened to me or as horrendous as assault: We should all learn to protect ourselves. Frankly, these things shouldn’t happen in the first place.
Two lessons that I’ve learned are that I have to have a game plan for how to react if a situation like that were to happen again, and how I would handle myself in a professional manner. There’s no point in hoping that the situation may not escalate. My well-being is more important, as is everyone else’s.