7:16pm PT by Kimberly Nordyke
Melissa Benoist Calls for Industry Change After 'Supergirl' Boss Accused of Sexual Harassment
Supergirl star Melissa Benoist is calling for Hollywood to change "the norm" after series showrunner Andrew Kreisberg was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women.
"[W]hen people commit crimes or harass others, they should always be held accountable — no matter what industry they work in or how much power they wield," she wrote in a statement that was posted on Twitter on Sunday night. "I've spoke up about it in the past — publicly and not so publicly — and I'll continue to do so. All of us should, without fear or shame. We all need to hold ourselves to a higher standard."
Kreisberg, executive producer of The CW's DC Comics series, which also include The Flash and Arrow, was suspended last week by producers Warner Bros. Television Group in the wake of the allegations. Warner Bros. Television, the studio behind the Greg Berlanti-produced comic book adaptations, has launched an internal investigation into the claims leveled against Kreisberg.
Benoist noted that this isn't uncommon in the industry, which is "heartbreaking" and makes her "feel helpless." But she's still hopeful she can effect change.
"I know I'm not the only one who feels this way," she wrote. "But I'm an optimist. I believe lasting change is possible, and when people are mistreated, they should have a safe forum to speak their trust and always be heard. And so this week, I'll head back to work on Supergirl even more committed to being a part of changing the norm by listening when people speak up, and refusing to accept an environment that is anything less than a safe, respectful and collaborate space."
Benoist's co-star Chyler Leigh also weighed in with a post on Instagram. (Leigh plays Benoist's sister on the CW series.)
In her post, she quoted Maya Angelou: "Each time a woman stands up for herself, without know it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women."
She added: "Let's stand up Ladies. Lets stand up FOR each other. Let's stand up WITH each other. Let’s #createchange together #sheroes."
Arrow star Emily Bett Rickards also weighed in on Twitter on Sunday night. (Kreisberg was showrunner on Arrow until he left to do the same job on Flash full-time but remains an executive producer on the former.)
"To the men who committed harassment, who perpetuated rape culture, who turn a 'blind eye,' and complain about 'reverse sexism': you are weak and complicit," she wrote. "To the women who found the strength to speak up. To the women who supported one another and to the women finding their voice: You can. You are heroines."
Legends of Tomorrow star Caity Lotz addressed the allegations on Monday morning via Twitter.
To the brave women and men who are coming forward to condemn their abusers... I add my voice to the choir of support. You are the ones ushering in change that would allow all of us to work in an environment where we are respected and safe
— Caity Lotz (@caitylotz) November 13, 2017
Late Monday, Arrow star Stephen Amell spoke about the investigation in a Facebook video posted late Monday, which he said he filmed after speaking with the Arrow cast and crew about the allegations.
"I stand beside and fully support everything that they said. Our biggest asset on Arrow is our crew and furthermore their biggest strength and our biggest strength is working on it as a team. I think that we can do this because we promote and we champion a safe and progressive work environment," he said. "I told them this morning and I tell you now and I meant it, that if anyone ever feels anything less than 100 percent safe or anyone feels as though they aren’t allowed to express themselves and be the person that they are, that they should come to whomever they're supposed to go to and I'll stand right beside them, right behind them, I'll speak on their behalf if need be.
"I also think that in situations like this, if you're not an active part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem period. We do our best to have the best possible work environment. We will continue to do so. I echo the statements made by my friend and coworker Emily Bett Rickards, Caity Lotz, Melissa Benoist and the course of others that have come forward and called for a safe, progressive, equal working environment."
Early Tuesday, The Flash star Grant Gustin weighed with a statement via Instagram.
The Legends of Tomorrow writers room released a collective statement later on Tuesday, expressing their support and condemning "those who abuse their power."
— LoT Writers Room (@LoTWritersRoom) November 14, 2017
Nineteen men and women, all of whom chose to remain anonymous, came forward to Variety, which first reported the allegations, to accuse the showrunner of sexual misconduct, including inappropriate touching, which took place over a period of several years. Many are current or former employees of the shows Kreisberg executive produced. Kreisberg allegedly touched people and kissed women without consent and asked for massages from female staff. None of his accusers reported the alleged behavior to the HR department, though they claim the producer fostered a "toxic" work environment in which women were evaluated "based on their bodies."
"We were recently made aware of some deeply troubling allegations regarding one of our showrunners. We have been encouraging and fully cooperating with the investigation into this by Warner Bros.," Berlanti said in a joint statement with Berlanti Productions head of television Sarah Schechter. "There is nothing more important to us than the safety and well-being of our cast, crew, writers, producers and any staff. We do not tolerate harassment and are committed to doing everything we can to make an environment that’s safe to work in and safe to speak up about if it isn't."
Kreisberg has denied the allegations. "I have made comments on women’s appearances and clothes in my capacity as an executive producer, but they were not sexualized," he told Variety.
Read Benoist's, Rickards' and Leigh's full statements below,
I am a woman who leads a shot that supports equality and feminism, empowerment and fighting for what is right. I have always tried to conduct myself this way personally, as well. Sadly, the show and my career are a part of an industry that doesn't always mirror these sentiments. This is heartbreaking, and at times makes me feel helpless. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. But I'm an optimist. I believe lasting change is possible, and when people are mistreated, they should have a safe forum to speak their trust and always be heard. And when people commit crimes or harass others, they should always be held accountable — no matter what industry they work in or how much power they wield. I've spoke up about it in the past — publicly and not so publicly — and I'll continue to do so. All of us should, without fear or shame. We all need to hold ourselves to a higher standard. So this week, I'll head back to work on Supergirl even more committed to being a part of changing the norm by listening when people speak up, and refusing to accept an environment that is anything less than a safe, respectful and collaborate space.
— Melissa Benoist (@MelissaBenoist) November 13, 2017
— Emily Bett Rickards (@EmilyBett) November 13, 2017
“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without know it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women” - Maya Angelou @shethority Let’s stand up Ladies. Lets stand up FOR each other. Let’s stand up WITH each other. Let’s #createchange together #sheroes
A post shared by Chyler Leigh (@chy_leigh) on
Lesley Goldberg and Meena Jang contributed to this report.
Updated 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12: Added Rickards' statement.
Updated 8:17 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12: Added Leigh's statement.
Updated 3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13: Added Amell and Lotz's comments.
Updated 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov.14: Added Gustin's comments.
Updated 2:15 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 14: Added Legends of Tomorrow writers room statement.