The reckoning against Hollywood men who abuse their power marches onward, but as the #MeToo stories from their victims continue to emerge, there’s something undeniably disconcerting: Almost all the women coming forward are white. That’s not noted to shame those women who have come forward (because their bravery is so necessary to recognize) but white women are not the only ones who have been abused by the culture of sexism in the entertainment industry. Their privilege allows them to come forward relatively safely; the same can’t be said for women of color.
That’s why it’s so powerful to see actor Karla Souza, a Latina you may know from her starring role on How to Get Away with Murder, speaking out about her own rape at the hands of a director. While Souza doesn’t name her rapist, she describes him in an interview with CNN en Español, calling him “charismatic” and noting that he’s “doing very well in his career.”
Souza claims she was put in a hotel away from the rest of the cast and crew while shooting a movie with this director — the hotel he was also staying at. It wasn’t long, she said, before he started showing up at her room, sometimes in the middle of the night, claiming to want to discuss scenes.
“He enters the room and does not leave the room,” Souza said. “He made me feel special in a way.”
But that soon escalated, she said, and he began touching her without her consent. If she refused him, he would “punish” her on set by cutting her scenes, but if she allowed his advances, he was sweet and generous, she claimed. Fellow cast members found out and actually praised Souza for “taming the wolf.” But of course, the director’s behavior escalated again.
“He attacked me violently and he raped me. It’s hard for me to say this,” she said.
As Hollywood addresses its sexism and hopefully becomes more sensitive to feminist issues, it’s important for that feminism be intersectional. There are many stories like Souza’s waiting to be told by other women of color. Hopefully, Souza’s bravery in coming forward will help other women find their voice as well.