LGBTQ Hollywood Assistants Discuss Sexual Allegations!
What Do The Successors Of Tinsel Town Have To Say?
I’d like to give credit to the outing of Harvey Weinstein as the reason we’re having a Hollywood revolution, but I believe we owe our only thank you to Donald Trump. Since he’s taken over the White House, we’ve seen a plethora of powerful men fall from their grace as allegations take them down – hard. First, we saw Weinstein, then – all of these allegations:
Those are just some of the allegations coming from celebrities and those involved in the Entertainment Industry. I am someone who currently works in Entertainment and have been an Assistant before. Just being in the industry for a few short years has given me an endless amount of insight and access to many Hollywood secrets. Literally, ask anyone in Hollywood about the hidden sexuality of a handful of celebrities – they will be quick to tell you, “OH, well everyone knows that!” It is pretty intense if you think about it from a different stand point. But, in Hollyweird – it’s just, normal.
If there is one person who definitely knows the ins and outs of this industry, including their bosses' secrets, it’s the assistants. We know the juicy spoilers for your upcoming favorite films, how to savvy your way into a booked restaurant, and who is worthy of your trust or time. I recently saw a tweet that had me gagging – writer, John Rogers, knows what’s up:
Bravo! Rogers is absolutely right. The assistants of Hollywood do have a secret connection that is not only shared through similar life stressors, but also through an online network that is exclusive and only held by a handful. Luckily, I am a part of this group. It’s where Tyler Grasham was first publicly accused of assault. Grasham would later be fired for his alleged assaults on barely-there-teenagers. Arguably, it's been better to vent to those who can share your pain compared to my mother who will fortunately never be able to understand my odd, Hollywood frustrations.
Through this fantastic group, I get to connect with my fellow LGBTQ assistants. After reaching out to various members, I was able to gain some insider information with their professional opinion. I had to know how they were being affected, as every gay man who has been outed for alleged assault was also involved with allegedly a child- more or less. The following past or present assistants appear a little reserved as they trot the line of their NDA. However, it’s no secret that they are aware of the ins and outs of Hollywood. Allow me to introduce them to you:
Andy Lalwani, Content Creator
Zachary Lee-Halley, Producer
Noah Silverman, Executive Assistant (Production)
Anonymous Assistant Male, Executive Assistant (Talent)
Anonymous Assistant Female, Executive Assistant (Talent)
Stephen Schiatta, Assistant (Production)
Bryan Keating: Are you surprised by the sexual assault allegations running in Hollywood?
Andy Lalwani: “Not one bit.”
Zachary Lee-Halley: “Not really. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t dealt with some level of harassment in the business, sexual or not.”
Noah Silverman: “No!”
Anonymous Assistant-Male: “[Laughing out loud] No.”
Anonymous Assistant-Female: “I am more so surprised at how many people have turned their heads over the years and HR departments that have ignored requests. They're will always be villains in every story but the amount of bystanders, now quick to disassociate themselves, is massively uncomfortable to me. When this ceases to stay relevant, those people hold the power and that's frightening.”
Stephen Schiatta: “Over the years I have heard stories about some of the people being accused and it was treated like an open secret.”
BK: Have you experienced sexual assault in your field?
ZLH: “I suppose strictly speaking getting felt up a bit here or there is sexual assault, but I never felt all conflicted about it. I know there are people that have experienced really compromising or dangerous situations so I have a hard time putting them all under the same umbrella.”
AA: “Yes, but not at my job.”
BK: Has your sexuality played a pivotal role in booking jobs in the industry?
AL: “[Yes] A lot of people know me from being a “social media gay.” People want to understand my point of view, and hear my perspective as a millennial – a young, gay, person of color in fact.”
ZLH: “I think [being gay] helped. But, I’m definitely the only gay man on most of the crews I’ve worked on.”
NS: “Not with actually getting jobs, but it certainly has had influence over people wanting to meet with me and "learning more about me."
AAM: “[Hollywood] is the easiest industry to be gay in.”
AAF: “People are like commodities in our industry and I sometimes feel like an item in the grocery store. Am I the next wave of sought after items? I'm a private person and somewhat closeted. I know that being a gay woman could be versatile enough to attract potential employers for a variety of noble and not so noble motives. It truly depends on how much exploitation for a job I desire, sadly.”
BK: Since the allegations, pedophilia is once again being associated with the gay community. Do you fear this will be a stigma throughout the industry?
AL: “I have this fear because there are so many young, driven gay people out there. I’ve been to events where there are underage gays who want to be a part of a social crowd. Yet, it’s our duty to educate younger generations in the LGBTQ+ community. I know that when I was young, I still had little [difficulty] understanding coming from a small town.”
ZLH: “Only idiots will make that equivalency.”
NS: “I certainly hope it doesn't impact how people look at openly gay role models, especially those in Hollywood.”
AAM: “I hope it doesn’t. My generation is the opposite of those who had to be closeted and live behind closed doors.”
AAF: “I absolutely fear of the stigma of any of that type of behavior is associated with the gay community. Not only am I gay, but I am also religious. The balance is already hard to begin with and then to see my smaller town folk back home be subject to subconscious messaging jut plain sucks. Just because we're different doesn't mean one thing. You can't lump all different people and behaviors in one bag. Disgusting and another step back. It's ever so more important for organizations like GLAAD to upload and promote positive diversity in the media for us.”
SS: “I do, just like over in Washington DC when a senator gets caught – that stigma sticks. At this point it’s a running joke if another senator was caught, say in a same-sex encounter, even though they have spoken out against it. I fear that Hollywood will become a similar running joke, that it full of perverts and pedophiles. Which makes me wonder if I even want to stay in this industry.”
BK: Did you have knowledge of anyone in the industry taking advantage of their power for sexual purposes? Especially those who have recently been outed?
AL: “I used to hear rumors of creators trying to get ahead. It’s hard to create a name for yourself. I was told about the Kevin Spacey stories weeks before it full cake to surface. At the time, I was going through something of my own having an ex accused of multiple sexual assaults, and a friend had called me about what he had known about other Hollywood tales. My feelings are that people are trying to hide the complete truth to keep their power and jobs at stake.”
ZLH: “I’ve heard all the same rumors and accusations as everyone else, but [had] no first-hand knowledge.”
NS: “I didn't know about them specifically, but just knowing the behavior I've seen and how people function in generally, the allegations haven't surprised me at all. There are constant abuses of power and the entire industry is based on sex. I have heard whispers of things, nothing non-consensual. But I've heard of behaviors what should be considered unethical.”
AAM: “[The gay community] has heard of the [Bryan] Singer parties. The assistants don’t go there. No one who is a “would-be” in Hollywood goes there. Only the young, naïve boys get invited. [Because] No one worth talking too would listen to them. They are [presumably] crazy, gold diggers.”
AAF: “I did have knowledge and I do have knowledge of people in entertainment taking advantage of others because they are in power. It is sad how much we're at a disadvantage. It appears the HR is still more invested in protecting higher up employees from being exposed then supporting the lower level employees from being harmed. I can tell you my office hasn't even scratched some of the surface of the unwanted sexual advances in our office.”
SS: “Yes, as I have said some of the celebrities accused I have heard "stories" or "rumors" of the years and if you ask anyone in the know, it was treated as an open secret.”
BK: Do you believe the fallen dominos of power are leading to a revolution in Hollywood?
AL: “I think a lot is changing in Hollywood. One day you may be at the top, but you can go from zero to one hundred and one hundred to zero at any time. New people come and go, but at the same time, we are seeing people who we never thought would have an end to their career. Now, we are seeing people stand up for themselves and break down the stigmas like that “bad press” or tarnished names will come if they tell the struggle.”
ZLH: “I think “revolution” is probably overstating it. I think most people who are already conscientious about it and the handful of ‘bad actors’ are getting outed as creeps, abusers, and felons. But most of the people I work with are really decent and always trying to be fair and supportive.”
NS: “Yes. I believe the Trump era has ironically made some more empowered to bring these issues to the forefront. It's a combination of factors. But I think the zeitgeist of this time has definitely emboldened many to say, "fuck it." The bar has become so low that what has been deemed shameful before, really no longer seems that way.”
AAM: “It needed to be done. For years I’ve been mad at myself that I’m struggling while these creeps keep getting ahead. Nothing was ever being done. I don’t know what caused this power change, but I’m thankful for the future. I won’t have to see my friends subject themselves to one-night stands for a potential job they never end up getting.”
AAF: “I believe that there is a conversation that has never existed before these people have fallen. The dialogues account for wider perspectives and more stories. It is important for journalists to stay on track and faithful to stories. I want those in power and those writers to understand the gravity of the issue and knowing the North Star is to change and eradicate this behavior rather than hit a bonus for the amount of clicks on their link. Bystanders need to continue to emerge from the middle and stick to their guns. I hope on the phone on male dominated conference calls where they are still worried for each other and not the victims or their employees. I overheard one woman who spoke out in a conference call to protect her client while the men in the call were more concerned with covering tracks rather than cutting out the toxic behavior.”
SS: “I do, yes. I think things have been boiling for years and its starting to explode. Just like in the movies they create, the people in power think they are untouchable and it takes the brave people that have been abused to shine a spotlight on this problem because in truth it's probably been happening since Hollywood even started.”
It looks like the Hollywood Assistants have more to say: Nearly all of them held back and openly shared that similar statement with me. It's bizarre that all of them knew. What else are they hiding? What else do they know? Hollywood, you are unraveling. Hand me the popcorn, because I’m watching this implode. This is just the beginning.