Commenting on the allegations of sexual harassment against top Hollywood film producer, Harvey Weinstein, the Ghanaian actress said such unfortunate occurrences are common in the film industry in Africa.
“Earlier in my career, just once, small-time producer… asked to see my breast for a role that I was auditioning for and I said no! And I walked out,” she recalled on BBC Focus on Africa Friday when reached for her experiences.
She observed harassment of women have become widespread and cuts across professions, including the film industry where producers have mostly been accused of demanding for sex before giving roles to actresses.
The actress-cum-filmaker said women in their desperation for jobs encounter men who mostly take advantage of them.
“Women are subjected to unwarranted sexual advances from men in powerful position especially, who want to take advantage of their [women’s] vulnerability especially in Africa where there’s a lot of poverty,” she stated.
She told the story of how some producers in an attempt to lay aspiring actresses, claim to have had sexual encounters with some of the big time actresses in the industry.
“Just last week, an actress walked up to me and said she’s been trying to break into the industry for several years but every producer wants to sleep with her and then they will name-drop that okay I slept with this big actress before gibing her a role, I slept with that big actress…
“They’re trying to play with your [upcoming actresses] mind to make you believe that okay, all these big actresses slept with them before becoming big,” she narrated.
These producers, Ms. Forson said, usually threaten the budding actresses when they refuse to give in to their demands, stating they “threaten them because if you don’t do it I’m going to blackball you in the industry so there is that fear”.
Nollywood no different
Contributing to the discussion, Nigerian actress, Kate Henshaw, painted a similar picture in Nollywood, indicating that men were feeding on some desperate ladies who want to become actress.
She recounted how a producer-cum-director had wanted to have sex with an aspiring actress before he could give her a role, which she said made her (Kate) feel bad.
According to her, the producer was looking for a lady to play a role in a movie they were shooting to which she introduced the aspiring lady to him to be auditioned for the role.
Ms. Henshaw said she never heard from the lady again until two days later that the lady called to tell her the producer asked the aspiring actress to meet him at a hotel
“…She calls me that she doesn’t want the role anymore and I’m like why? Oh the director says [I] should see him in a hotel. I really felt terrible,” Ms. Henshaw recalled.
When she confronted the director, his response was “oh Kate you know how these things…I’m like no that is absolutely rude. I don’t want anyone to think that I am paving the way or giving her up so she can get a role”, she said
For Ms. Henshaw, she believes in giving jobs to people based on merit and “not because you’re getting something in return.
By Stephen Kwabena Effah|3news.com|Ghana