“One thing that people don’t understand about the Me Too movement is that people think that people come forward to get money, people come forward to get fame. The deal is you only get paid for silence,” said Terry Crews, during a discussion at the 25th annual Essence Festival, Essence magazine’s 3-day confab that celebrates global Black culture. “It’s so important to understand that when people are telling the truth, it’s a way of setting free a whole nation of people who have been suffering.”
The America’s Got Talent host was joined onstage by his wife, Rebecca King-Crews, as well as Surviving R. Kelly contributor and author Asante McGee, on a panel titled “Breaking of Silence to Heal Our Communities.”
Crews, who alleged he was assaulted by former William Morris Endeavor agent Adam Venit during an industry party back in 2016, said contrary to what many people believe, he did not stay silent after the incident.
“I did come forward right away. I went right to the agency where this man worked and told everybody,” he explained. “I didn’t go public right away. I gave them time to rectify the situation. I wanted them to get rid of this man.”
Crews said he felt stuck when the agency did nothing to resolve the situation.
“This was pre-Me Too, if I would have gone to the police, I would have been laughed out of the precinct. This was also a time when people believed that you as a man couldn’t be sexually assaulted. It was impossible to get anyone to believe.”
The #MeToo movement was reinvigorated in 2017 following the sexual-abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein. As headlines spread about the Weinstein case, many accusers, including Crews felt empowered to go public.
“When the women of the Me Too movement came forward, I viewed that like a hole in the fence. I watched those women escape and I ran right after them. That is when I came public. With the inspiration and from the courage they showed, actually gave me the courage to come forward with my story,” the actor and television host noted.
Crews said coming forward was “probably the most important thing we’ve ever done,” adding that “It happens so often and we really blew the lid off of this thing.”
Through the ordeal, the Brooklyn Nine-Nine star and his wife, Rebecca, said they found their purpose.
“We used our anger about this situation to be an advocate for other people,” said Rebecca. “It made [us] realize there’s a bigger purpose. You can take what’s meant for evil and use it for good and that’s what we did.”
Surviving R. Kelly’s McGee also found the bigger purpose in coming forward with her story even after being met with critics who doubted her truth.
“As long as I know I touch one person it gives me the strength to keep moving forward,” she said.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.