Nikki Bon and Claire Cavalheiro have launched an online support group to help actors who have fallen victim to sexual misconduct in the industry.
Bon and Cavalheiro launched Keep Actors Safe on Facebook and Instagram in hopes that those working in the industry can share their experiences on this platform. The pages have been up for six weeks already and the two performers from Toronto have heard hundreds of accounts of harassment and abuse in just over a month since they started.
“It was really intense and overwhelming because nothing has been available to people like this before, where they felt they could tell someone, be validated and have their story heard — and be safe about doing so,” Cavalheiro told CBS News.
Bon agreed and stressed that the support from others on those web pages makes a huge difference.
“That validation of other people saying that isn’t okay really helps you distinguish between the behaviour, the actor and the coach and what is right and what is wrong,” she added.
Bon realized the need for the support group after experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace herself. Back in May, she shared a video on Instagram on what her acting coach allegedly did when preparing her for a scene. In the clip, she said he was bigger than her and she didn’t want the people to shun her.
“He started massaging my arms and it got to the point where he started saying, ‘Do I turn you on? Do I turn you on?” the comedian and writer told CBS News.
“And he starts touching my face, and then he started kissing my neck without my permission. I [explicit]froze, I didn’t know what do to because I was so confused at the time.”
CBS News has reached out to the man, but he has not responded. Bon said she has no plans to press charges.
Meanwhile, ACTRA Toronto, the union that represents about 25,000 performers, saw Bon’s Instagram video. The organization is in active discussion with its members to address the sexual hrassment issues that occur in the context of teaching or coaching sessions.
“While we can’t comment on specific incidents involving individual members, ACTRA Toronto members interested in pursuing a complaint against another ACTRA Toronto member should contact the director of member services,” the union’s special adviser Victoria Shen said.