Moulin Rouge! actor Karen Olivo says she’s not returning to the Broadway production as a form of protest against Scott Rudin, the prolific theater and film producer who former employees accused of abusive behavior in the workplace in a recent Hollywood Reporter story.
Olivo, who played Satine in the Broadway production that began in 2019, announced her departure from the role in an Instagram video on Monday. “Social justice is more important than being a sparkling diamond. Building a better industry for my students is more important than me putting money in my pockets,” the Tony-winning performer said in the video. “The silence about Scott Rudin? Unacceptable. Unacceptable. That’s the easy one, y’all. That’s a monster. That should be a no-brainer. Those of you who say you’re scared, what are you afraid of?”
She then challenged the rest of the industry to speak up: “Are you going to protect your pocketbook? And let people go to the emergency room so you can do your next concert?” She added, “That’s it. I don’t need to be on a stage. I need to be out here… People are more important than your pocketbook.”
Olivo’s statements come one day after three performers’ unions — SAG-AFTRA, Actors Equity and the American Federation of Musicians Local 802 — condemned workplace abuse in a statement prompted by THR‘s Rudin story. “Every worker deserves to do their job in an environment free of harassment of any kind, whether that harassment creates a toxic workplace or, certainly in the case of sexual harassment, when that behavior is also against the law,” the statement read.
Some notable industry members have also piped in on Rudin’s alleged behavior — including Annapurna Pictures founder Megan Ellison, Star Trek: Discovery and Rent star Anthony Rapp and On Your Feet! star Mauricio Martínez — but, as a whole, theater and entertainment companies and industry members have remained largely silent on the matter. Rudin has several major projects in the works, including Netflix’s adaptation of The Woman in the Window, out May 14, Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth and Lila Neugebauer’s Red, White and Water.
Speaking to THR, several on-the-record former employees of Rudin’s alleged that the producer had smashed a computer monitor on an assistant’s hand, thrown a baked potato at the head of another and also thrown a stapler at an assistant while in the office.
Olivo added at the end of the Instagram video, “I want a theater industry that matches my integrity. C’mon, y’all, why don’t we go make it? It’s not here, obviously.”