Nearly a week after leaked nude video footage of Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams’ performance in the Broadway play Take Me Out went viral on the internet, the actor himself is finally speaking out about the matter.
Speaking with the Associated Press over the weekend, Williams remained determined to press on with the show and assured folks that he was still in good spirits despite it all.
“I’m not down about it. Our job is to go out there every night, no matter what,” he explained. “I’m not really worrying about it. I can’t sweat that. We do need to keep advocating for ourselves. And it’s wonderful to see a community push back and make clear what we do stand for, what we don’t. Consent is important, I thought. So, let’s keep that in mind universally.”
He further added, “Theater is a sacred space, and everybody doesn’t understand that. Everybody doesn’t necessarily respect or regard that in a way that maybe they should, or we’d like.”
As previously reported by The Root, consent and respect were also values the Actor’s Equity Association and Second Stage Theater brought up in their rebuke of the leaked footage last week.
“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,” the organizations said in a joint statement.
Second Stage further added: “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.”
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 is currently in the running to win Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play at this year’s Tony Awards which are set to take place Sunday, June 12, hosted by Tony and Academy Award-winning actress Ariana DeBose.