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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

Leaked Nude Footage of Jesse Williams Condemned By Actor's Equity Association, Second Stage Theater

The actor performed full frontal nude during several scenes in the Broadway play, Take Me Out, a role for which he also earned a Tony nomination on Monday.

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Jesse Williams attends the GQ Men Of The Year Celebration on November 18, 2021 in West Hollywood, California.
Jesse Williams attends the GQ Men Of The Year Celebration on November 18, 2021 in West Hollywood, California.
Photo: Leon Bennett (Getty Images)

Just one day after leaked photos and video of footage of Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse William’s Broadway performance in Take Me Out went viral online, the Actor’s Equity Association and Second Stage Theater are condemning the actions of whoever’s responsible.

In a joint statement from Kate Shindle, President of AEA—which represents over 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theatre said in a state—and Second Stage, they explained:

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the creation and distribution of photographs and videos of our members during a nude scene. As actors, we regularly agree to be vulnerable onstage in order to tell difficult and challenging stories. This does not mean that we agree to have those vulnerable moments widely shared by anyone who feels like sneaking a recording device into the theater. Whoever did this knew not only that they were filming actors without their consent, but also that they were explicitly violating the theater’s prohibition on recording and distribution.

At every performance, there is a mutual understanding between the audience and the performers that we are sharing an experience limited to this time and place; that trust makes it possible for us to be exposed both emotionally and physically. Trampling on this agreement by capturing and distributing these photographs and videos is both sexual harassment and an appalling breach of consent. It is a violation that impedes our collective ability to tell stories with boldness and bravery.”

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Second Stage echoed similar sentiments, noting that are “actively pursuing takedown requests” and will be “adding additional staff at the theater” to enforce the phone-free policy.

“Taking naked pictures of anyone without their consent is highly objectionable and can have severe legal consequences. Posting it on the internet is a gross and unacceptable violation of trust between the actor and audience forged in the theatre community” their statement said in part.

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As previously reported by The Root, Williams made his Broadway debut with Take Me Out, which centers around Darren Lemming, the star center fielder for the Empires, who “comes out of the closet. The reception off the field reveals a barrage of long-held unspoken prejudices. Facing some hostile teammates and fraught friendships, Darren is forced to contend with the challenges of being a gay person of color within the confines of a classic American institution. As the Empires struggle to rally toward a championship season, the players and their fans begin to question tradition, their loyalties, and the price of victory.” The play is written by Tony Award-winning playwright Richard Greenberg.

Williams previously discussed his indifference to appearing nude for the role during an interview with Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live After Show on Monday saying “It’s a body. Once you see it, you realize it’s whatever—it’s a body!” This is in stark contrast to the initial qualms he had about the role, explaining to Page Six in April that he was “terrified” at the thought of being without clothes for his Broadway debut, but “that was what I asked God for. I asked to be terrified. I asked to do something that was scary and challenging and made me earn it and made me feel alive and not comfortable.”

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On Monday, Williams also earned a Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play for his role in Take Me Out.