Jurnee Smollett Admits Being Sexually Harassed Since Age 12 + Taking Power Back: Building Our Own MotherF*cking Table
Actress, Jurnee Smollett, 33, has seen her fair share of what the entertainment industry has to offer, having a 30-year span of work in the business.
Her impressive role as Michelle Tanner’s best friend in ABC’s Full House, made headway for all 5 of her siblings to enter the entertainment industry, including her older brother, Empire actor, Jussie Smollett, who was accused and charged with staging his own attack in Chicago–charges were subsequently dropped.
In a recent interview, Jurnee reveals new claims about her experiences working on different jobs. She admits,
“I don’t know that I can confidently say that I worked on one job prior to Lovecraft — from the time I was 12 on — where I hadn’t been sexually harassed, whether it was by an AD, a co-star, director, producer.”
The newly divorced actress, who now has a child of her own, 3-year-old Hunter Bell, continued on
“Like, a guy saying before we’re about to do this love scene, ‘Hey, your tits are going to be hanging in the wind,’ is not OK.”
Jurnee Smollett grew up watching her mom take charge in guiding her daughter’s career. She watched her mother, Janet Smollett, turn down roles on her behalf, recalling,
“My mom would be on the phone with my agent yelling at her, like, ‘I could go sell pussy on the corner if I want to make money, OK? I don’t need to make money. My daughter’s not doing it.’ But that was my mom’s mentality — “I will not pimp out my children” — and I’m grateful for that.”
The actress claims,
“I’m very aware of the over-sexualization of the Black female body,”
which lends the reason behind her refusal to accept certain roles over the years. She states,
“I’ve sat with directors and they’ll say, ‘This is what it is,’ and you try to listen and understand, but if I don’t trust that they truly believe it’s essential to the plot, if it’s like, ‘Dude, you actually don’t care for him to get naked too?’ then I know what this is, and it’s a no for me.”
Another feat that Smollett had to conquer was experiencing racism in the industry. She recalls a time preparing for a marketing shoot on TBN’s Underground, where she was asked,
“So, what are we doing about your hair?”
“This was a project about enslaved people, there’d be no way for me to straighten my hair, which is what he was suggesting — a hot comb didn’t exist.”
“There are just so many ways in which this industry will try, subliminally or overtly, to erase your Blackness.”
Still, there are some Black women who help her along her journey and regain her power. TV executive and creator, Shonda Rhimes, once prompted Jurnee Smollett when she told her,
“I’m so tired of women like you who don’t own your power. You’re Jurnee fuckin’ Smollett.”
Smollett has definitely begun to walk in her power. The star of HBO’s Lovecraft Country is now walking in her power and claims
“I don’t apologize. I’ll be like, ‘Listen, this fake-ass sexual harassment meeting that we’re having, I’m going to raise my hand now and let you guys know that the standards that they’re setting are bare minimum.”
Jurnee Smollett makes it clear,
“We’re no longer asking for a seat at the table, we’re building our own motherf*cking table.”
What are your thoughts about what Smollett has to share about her experiences in the industry? Let us know below.