Oprah Insists Backing Out Of Docu ‘Is NOT A Victory For Russell Simmons! I Can’t Be Silenced By Him’
Oprah Winfrey isn’t backing down!
The media mogul is making it clear yet again that Russell Simmons had zero, zip and zilch to do with her decision to leave a documentary featuring women who accused him of sexual assault.
While Russell Simmons has been vocal about his disappointment that Oprah Winfrey would sign to executive produce the project, Oprah Winfrey is stating for another time that he’s not the reason she backed out.
She said during an appearance on “CBS This Morning” Tuesday (Jan. 21),
“First of all, I just want to say that I have lived MeToo since I was nine-years-old. I was raped at nine, sexually assaulted from nine to 14, and then raped again at 14. And nothing is harder than standing up for yourself when you’re 14 and not being believed, and I was not believed by my own family. So I stand and support these women. I believe them.”
She then said of Russell Simmons,
“It was a hard decision because I knew that Russell Simmons had publicly pressuring me and that me pulling out of the documentary was going to look like I was being pressured.”
Co-host Gayle King, who’s also Winfrey’s best friend, alleged Simmons pressured Oprah in private as well. Winfrey confirmed and added,
“What do I say to that is… For me, and Gayle knows this, in all experiences of my life, and particularly when I’m in a crisis, the only question for me is ‘What is the right thing to do for me?'”
She went on to say that she already spoke the filmmakers about pulling out before Simmons went public with his issues.
“Before the public pressure had started, before Russell had gone with his Instagram, I had gone to the filmmakers and I had said to them ‘Houston I think we have a problem here.’ New information had come forward the very first time this was announced, and I said I think we need to pull out of Sundance, and if we can’t pull out of Sundance I’m gonna have to take my name off. I don’t want to have to take my name off because it’s gonna be a big… pull out of Sundance cause I don’t care about awards, I just care about getting it right. I think there’s some inconsistences in stories that we need to look at.”
While Simmons has denied any wrongdoing, Winfrey also explained why she’s adamant about still supporting his accusers, despite no longer being involved in the film.
“I believe the women’s voices deserve to be heard, and as an executive producer, I also was in a position were not right. I wanted the context of the story to be broadened, I wanted more women brought into the story…”
She continued and said that she wanted to broaden the story of one of the women who had just been brought in, Alexia Norton Jones, who accused him of rape in 2018.
“I was asking for changes. I’ve been an executive producer since the beginning of ‘The Oprah Show’. And there were many times, people were asking ‘What’s the timeline?’ Until the thing is on the screen, you have the right to change your mind and make changes.”
She referenced a story from her daytime talk show about the 10th anniversary of the tragic Columbine High School shooting.
“The night before, I pulled it, because something about it didn’t feel right, and I thought ‘We are going to cause more school shootings if we put this on the air.’ So I’ve always been in the position, as an executive producer, if I say I want changes usually those are done.”
“What this has taught me is don’t put your name on anything you don’t have creative control over.”
“This is not a victory for Russell! I unequivocally say that I did not pull out for Russell. This is not a victory lap for him. I cannot be silenced by Russell Simmons after all I’ve been through. And also, I spent three years on trial trying to protect the girls at my school who had accused a dorm parent of sexual assault. Three years on trial and nobody believed them.”
As for the criticism she’s received for allegedly not supporting and standing up for black women, Winfrey said,
“That’s ridiculous. And also ridiculous to think I could be intimidated by Russell Simmons. I don’t think anyone, not at this point. I’m about to turn 66. And people were saying I was silenced, I’m not silenced, I’m sitting on ‘CBS This Morning’ which is the opposite of being silenced. I stand with the women, I support the women and I do hope people will see the film… and make their own decisions about it.”
See it at the 1:30 mark.
What are your thoughts on Oprah Winfrey’s remarks? Tell us in the comments!