Winfrey announced on Friday, January 10 that she was stepping down as an executive producer of the untitled film from directors Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick. “First and foremost, I want it to be known that I unequivocally believe and support the women,” Winfrey said in a statement, reports The Los Angeles Times. “Their stories deserve to be told and heard.” Winfrey continued, saying that “in my opinion, there is more work to be done on the film to illuminate the full scope of what the victims endured and it has become clear that the filmmakers and I are not aligned in that creative vision.”
The documentary, which is set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, will reportedly look at 20 women who have publicly accused Simmons of sexual harassment or assault including Drew Dixon, a Def Jam executive who accused Simmons of raping her in his New York City apartment in 1995.
“I have great respect for their mission,” Winfrey continued in her statement, “but given the filmmakers’ desire to premiere the film at the Sundance Film Festival before I believe it is complete, I feel it’s best to step aside.”
Winfrey’s decision to remove herself from the project means the documentary will reportedly no longer stream on Apple TV+ where she has a deal through her production company, Harpo Productions.
In a statement of their own, Ziering and Dick said they were “disappointed” by Winfrey’s choice to leave the project, but appreciated her full support of the women. “Revealing hard truths is never easy, and the women in our documentary are all showing extraordinary strength and courage by raising their voices to address sexual abuse in the music industry,” the filmmakers stated, per The Los Angeles Times. “The film is a beacon of hope for voices that have long been suppressed, and an inspiration for anyone wanting to regain their personal power.”
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).