While the internet enjoys the viral, leaked video of Jesse Williams’ Broadway performance, the Actors’ Equity Association is reminding us all that the fan who took the footage did so without his consent.
In Take Me Out, which earned the Grey’s Anatomy star a Tony nomination on Monday, Williams stars as a gay baseball player. Much of the play is set in a locker room, which featured the actors going full-frontal during a shower scene.
While the show has a no-phones policy, one fan snuck their device in to record Jesse’s nude scene, posting a video and a few pictures to the internet this week, going absolutely viral.
Now, the Actors’ Equity Association, made up of more than 51,000 individuals in the theater industry, is addressing the video leak in a statement released Tuesday.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the creation and distribution of photographs and videos of our members during a nude scene,” said Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association. “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.”
The statement went on to point out that the person who filmed the star and other actors on stage did so “without their consent,” condemning the audience member for “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,” the statement continued. “That trust makes it possible for us to be exposed both emotionally and physically.”
“It is a violation that impedes our collective ability to tell stories with boldness and bravery,” it concluded.
Second Stage Theater, the show’s producer, also released a statement about the leaked footage, calling it “deeply unfortunate that one audience member chose to disrespect the production.”
“Taking naked pictures of anyone without their consent is highly objectionable and can have severe legal consequences,” the statement read. “Posting it on the internet is a gross and unacceptable violation of trust between the actor and audience forged in the theatre community.”
Just hours before the nude video leaked on Monday, Williams spoke about the scene with Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live. When asked by the host about getting completely nude in front of an audience every night, the actor didn’t seem too bothered by it.
“Everyone around me [was] going, ‘Are you serious? Are you sure? Nude, nude? Naked?’ And everybody makes such a big deal,” he said. “It’s a body. Once you see it, you realize, whatever. It’s a body. I just have to not make it that big of a deal.”
Hopefully, he still has that mentality with so many more people seeing the scene.