Oprah Says Russell Simmons Tried To Pressure Her To Quit Docu + Ava DuVernay Chimes In

Oprah Winfrey Says Russell Simmons Tried To Push Her To Quit Docu w/ His Accusers + Ava DuVernay Chimes In

While Oprah Winfrey’s best friend said Russell Simmons didn’t pressure her to step back from the documentary featuring women who accused him of sexual assault, the media mogul has revealed that he did try.

It was reported earlier this month that Oprah Winfrey exited the documentary fore creative differences. Her BFF Gayle King said that despite Russell Simmons’s very public criticism of the project, he wasn’t the reason Oprah Winfrey left.

Gayle King

“I know this was a very stressful and very difficult decision for her to take her name off because she knows that her taking her name off because, as you point out, Russell has done a very public and very private campaign to convince her, she knows that the message that sends is that maybe she was muzzled. Nothing can be further from the case.”

“She thought that the documentary needed to breathe a little more. She thought that it was important that it be put in context for the times because you know these allegations [are] from many years ago and now we’re here in 2020. Put it in context of the times of what was going on there at that time.”

Now, Winfrey has told The New York Times: 

“He did reach out multiple times and attempted to pressure me.”

Famed director Ava DuVernay said the situation wasn’t necessarily a win/win for Winfrey.

“She’s got Simmons on one side pressuring her, and then she’s got a film on the other side that she doesn’t agree with. So if she walks away from the film she seems like she’s caving to Simmons, and if she stays with the film then she’s putting her name on something that she feels doesn’t quite hit the mark.”

Meanwhile, the documentary is set to premiere at Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 25. But because of Winfrey’s exit, it will no longer be a special on Apple+ TV.

What do you think about the rift between Oprah Winfrey and Russell Simmons? Tell us in the comments!
Authored by: Char Patterson