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#MeToo Is Prompting the ‘Reeducation of Men,’ Say NBC’s Female Stars

TCA: Retta, Lorraine Toussaint, and Susan Kelechi Watson spoke about the positive benefits of a new awareness about on-set behavior.

NBCUNIVERSAL EVENTS -- NBCUniversal Press Tour, January 2019 --  "NBC's Women of Drama"  -- Pictured: (l-r)  Jennifer Carpenter, "The Enemy Within"; Retta, "Good Girls", Lorraine Toussaint, "The Village"; Susan Kelechi Watson, "This Is Us" -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBCUniversal)

Jennifer Carpenter, “The Enemy Within”; Retta, “Good Girls”, Lorraine Toussaint, “The Village”; Susan Kelechi Watson, “This Is Us”

Chris Haston/NBCUniversal

For those wondering if substantial change has been made on television sets since the dawn of #MeToo, “Good Girls” star Retta has noticed at least one big difference — men are now asking questions.

“Last season, when everything was coming out, we had a lot of male guest stars actually ask us questions, which we found interesting and nice,” she said at NBC’s Women of Drama panel at the Television Critics Association press tour.

Some of those questions, she said, revealed that some men “are clueless about certain things,” but, in general, the questions also revealed the reason “everyone’s aware… they know that’s what’s going on in the industry — specifically [thanks to] men asking us what we’ve dealt with.”

Lorraine Toussaint, who stars in the midseason drama “The Village,” noted that another aftereffect of the #MeToo movement has been the fact that women felt empowered to speak out, including those working below-the-line, “which is sometimes an overlooked group of women.” On a set she was on, “somebody said something inappropriate to a crew member, and she had a platform where she could say, ‘That’s not cool.’ That’s across the board for women in the workplace.”

As she continued, “We have all been subjected to inappropriate behavior, suggestions, and treatment and now the strength of women hanging onto each other for courage — it makes a difference, we’re stronger and we’re braver. We’re seeing change. We’re also educating people — many men didn’t even know that this was inappropriate or offensive… Part of what happens is the reeducation of men.”

Susan Kelechi Watson of “This Is Us” noted that while she had never noticed anything inappropriate happening on her set, the production still had a big meeting last year to discuss appropriate behavior, and that afterwards everyone was “hyperaware” of the issue. “There are things that are so ingrained that we don’t realize the possibilities of what’s inherent,” Watson said.

In response to a question regarding the the use of intimacy coaches in cable dramas, Toussaint had to ask a reporter to explain what an intimacy coach was. But she then explained that she’s glad to hear they exist, because of experiences she’s had, even at this point in her career, “where I felt particularly vulnerable.”

“I’ve been a kind of a Nazi about making sure that it’s a closed set, even for sound,” she said. “If you don’t have to be on set then go away.”

This is because, she feels “part of the #MeToo movement is empowering us to be our own advocates.”

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