Terry Crews has opened up about telling the world about his sexual assault ordeal at a recent press conference for Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
But sadly in October 2017, he came to forefront of our minds and conversations for another, more distressing reason. He became the first high-profile man to come forward with sexual assault allegations as part of the #MeToo movement.
In a series of tweets, he alleged that a powerful film executive – later identified as Adam Venit, head of the motion picture department at Crews’ former talent company William Morris Endeavor – had groped his genitals at an industry event in 2016.
Since speaking out about the assault, Crews has become an important voice in the movement, something that has inspired the writers of Brooklyn Nine-Nine to cover #MeToo in one of the show’s upcoming episodes.
Speaking at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour on Wednesday (8 August), Crews (who plays police officer Terry Jeffords) explained what the aftermath has been after speaking out about his ordeal.
“I call it the ‘summer of freedom’ in that we can now tell our truth,” he said.
Referring to the lessons that he’s learned while acting on the show, he continued: “It’s about freedom and being able to tell your story. One thing that influenced me was being here and feeling safe and having friends and family on this show that I felt secure enough that I could tell my truth and still go to work. And it made a difference.
“Each and every person is standing up here right now because it gave me strength to do that — along with all the women who came forward in the #MeToo movement where I got all my strength from.”
When Crews originally broke the news about what had happened to him, he described going through all the emotions familiar to anyone who’s ever been groped in a public place: shock, disbelief, anger, distress, helplessness. The incident happened in front of his wife, he said, and although he considered retaliating, he believed it would actually make him more vulnerable.
“I was going to kick his ass right then – but then I thought twice about how the whole thing would appear,” he wrote on Twitter. “‘240 lbs. Black Man stomps out Hollywood Honcho’ would be the headline the next day. Only I probably wouldn’t have been able to read it because I WOULD HAVE BEEN IN JAIL.”
Although the time that followed must have been difficult (Crews was mocked by other men in the media, including 50 Cent who posted some particularly distasteful memes), it’s encouraging to see that something positive has come out of the strength it took to share his story.
In fact, Crews involvement in the movement has even inspired the show’s creators to do a #MeToo episode as the comedy endeavours to take on more timely subjects.
Showrunner Dan Goor touched on the difficulty between capturing the show’s tone and straddling sensitive issues at the same time. “They’re hard to do,” he said. “[They] still have to feel true to what the show is and still feel funny — but still give weight to the issue and explore it in a fair way.”
As #MeToo continues to be one of the most notable movements this decade, we think that referencing it in popular media is absolute no-brainer. Here’s hoping Brooklyn Nine-Nine and other TV shows introduce this important conversation into their content soon.