This week, How To Get Away With Murder actress Karla Souza revealed that she was raped by a director at the start of her career. The news brought the #MeToo movement to Mexico, where more women in the entertainment industry are now opening up about sexual harassment.
Actresses Paola Núñez and Stephanie Sigman have each talked with CNN about the intimidation they’ve experienced by male leaders in their field.
Núñez, most popularly known for her role in the novela Amor en Custodia, said her experience started from psychological to sexual harassment with a former director.
She landed a gig and the male director, who she did not name, told her repeatedly that the production team did not want her for the role, saying she lacked talent and beauty, and that he fought for her to get the part.
“That’s when the psychological terrorism and psychological harassment that I had to go through began,” she said.
After breaking her down mentally for two months, Núñez said he then started making sexual advances. First, he asked her to take photos topless, saying that he needed the images since the film they were working on had nude scenes. Then he had her watch a semi-pornographic film alone with him, noting that he wanted her to recreate the scene for the movie. While Núñez felt uncomfortable, she did not realize it was sexual harassment because he did not physically touch her. But one day, when the director was scolding the actress for a bad performance, he demanded that she show him, physically, that she deserved the role. Núñez told her manager and resigned from the project.
“Women are taught we are guilty for being women, for being objects desired by men, for being sexually objectified, we have assumed it so much, that we think we have to go through those things,” she said, noting that she has turned down several career opportunities due to sexual harassment.
This was the experience of Stephanie Sigman, seen in Netflix’s Narcos as well as the James Bond film “Spectre,” as well.
The Mexican-American actress was assaulted by a director and his wife when she was 22 years old. Waiting to use the restroom at a party, the man pulled her hair and took her into a dark room, where he and his wife began to touch her body without her consent. Sigman turned on the light and ran out the room. When telling others about what had happened to her, they belittled the encounter, saying that they are just an “eccentric” couple.
“Those answers are the ones that impact and hurt me, because you do not feel the support, and because I know that has happened many times,” she said.
Two years later, at a film festival, the director and his wife attempted to do the same thing to Sigman, even though she told the couple that she was uncomfortable.
Since spreading viral in 2017, the Me Too hashtag and movement has revealed the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment in the entertainment industry and inspired women in all levels of their careers to take action.