Jesse Williams has spoken out after leaked video and images of his nude scene in the Broadway play Take Me Out went viral online. The actor expressed to the Associated Press how the action will not hinder his on-stage performance despite it violating ethical boundaries.
“I’m not really worrying about it. I can’t sweat that. We do need to keep advocating for ourselves. And it’s wonderful to see a community push back and make clear what we do stand for, what we don’t,” the actor expressed. “Consent is important, I thought. So, let’s keep that in mind universally.”
He continued, “Theater is a sacred space, and everybody doesn’t understand that. Everybody doesn’t necessarily respect or regard that in a way that maybe they should, or we’d like.”
The former Grey’s Anatomy star is currently starring in the play Take Me Out, a revival of Richard Greenberg’s exploration of what happens when a Major League Baseball superstar comes out as gay. His performance earned him a Tony Award nomination.
Second Stage Theater has a no-phone policy for the play, which includes multiple nude scenes, requiring audience members to lock cellular phones away for the duration of the play. Once the mandate was violated, the theater issued a statement revealing plans to have every video and image shared from the leak removed from the internet.
“It is deeply unfortunate that one audience member chose to disrespect the production, their fellow audience members and, most importantly, the cast in this manner,” the statement reads. “Taking naked pictures of anyone without their consent is highly objectionable, and can have severe legal consequences. posting it on the internet is a gross and unacceptable violation of trust between the actor and the audience forged in the theater community.”
— Second Stage Theater (@2STNYC) May 10, 2022
Williams’ co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson also spoke out about the nude leak.
“I’m appalled by the disrespect shown to the actors of our company whose vulnerability on stage every night is crucial to Take Me Out,” he wrote on Twitter, sharing the theater statement. “Anyone who applauds or trivializes this behavior has no place in the theater which has always been a safe space for artists & audience members.”
The New York Times reported that since the leak, the Second Stage Theater has added additional security measures to monitor audience behavior.
“We’re having discussions internally whether we would then stop the show, or send an usher or security when we see someone, to remove them,” shared Peter Dean, the director of production for Second Stage.