When Lifetime aired its six-part docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, the network not only unpacked years’ worth of sexual abuse allegations levied against R&B singer R. Kelly, it unveiled the multitude of women who had similar experiences with the embattled crooner. It effectively changed the conversation surrounding Kelly, who since has been charged with multiple sexual assault crimes in Chicago.
“What we did realize is that in order for the survivors to be heard — this is something that’s been ongoing for almost three decades — that it made more sense to lean into the number because there is the real power in numbers,” Lifetime’s SVP Unscripted Development & Programming and the doc’s executive producer Brie Miranda Bryant said recently during Deadline’s fourth annual The Contenders Emmys awards-season event.
Bryant was joined onstage for the panel discussion at the Paramount Theater by survivor Kitti Jones, one of the 54 participants in the series, who first came forward with her story in 2017. “I did stand alone when I first came forward, and it was a very scary experience to stand alone,” she said.
Now having the opportunity to stand with fellow survivors, Jones described the impact it has made.
“I never expected it to be a surge in numbers, with sexual abuse and domestic violence hotlines surging over the three-night period of the documentary, and how many people that it triggered just watching us talk about all those moments,” she said. “I just wanted to stand in my truth and share it with the world and be fearless, and I never expected it to become what it has.”
Check out the conversation in the video above.
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