Arrested Development star Alia Shawkat has spoken out for the first time since the now-infamous New York Times roundtable interview with the show’s cast.
In an interview with Broadly, Shawkat shared how she was afraid that she wasn’t heard after speaking up when her male colleagues defended Jeffrey Tambor’s aggressive behavior towards Jessica Walter. Shawkat said she was upset and cried after the conversation.
“Women’s voices need to be heard and, ironically enough — I wasn’t able to be heard,” she said to Broadly. “I was really scared that the interviewer didn’t even hear me.”
When the subject of Tambor’s exit from Transparent among sexual harassment allegations came up in the NYT interview, some of other men in the room spoke up in praise of Tambor. In an ironic twist, the cast unwittingly staged a scene of the all-too-common dynamic between men and women in the workplace that effectively silences women.
With #MeToo making headlines day in and day out, it can be easy to gloss over the fact that it remains excruciatingly intimidating to speak up about gender inequity, harassment, and mistreatment, especially when it comes to vocalizing concerns at work.
That goes for when you’re on the record with the New York Times, or for when you find yourself trapped in a more everyday situation, where the risks might not be as high-profile but remain just as steep. A strange, derogatory calculus is at play to determine how and when a professional environment might become unbearable — and when it reaches that limit, determining what action can be taken.
Shawkat is not the only person with ties to the show to address the incident, although some statements underscore her point. The problem came to a head in that controversial interview, but it stemmed from years of women in their workplace not having space and security to speak up in the first place, something her male colleagues say they regret not being aware of.
“I misinterpreted what I understood to have played out, and more importantly the depth of Jessica’s pain about it,” Arrested Development creator Mitch Horowitz said to Deadline about missing the tension between Tambor and Walter. “I wish I’d known, or made a greater effort to know, the pain that it caused.”
Shawkat’s interview exposed a two-fold problem: women grappling with the challenge of speaking up at work, and men needing to consciously enable open conversation in the first place. Speaking to Broadly, she posed the question that gets to the heart of it all: “How are we going to be more verbal and express things that make us feel uncomfortable?”