NEW YORK (AP) — Jessie Woo just wanted to sing. So when the budding vocalist met a successful music producer who told her he wanted to help her with her music, she believed him.
Then, one night seven years ago, the producer raped her, she said.
It was not the only time she was preyed upon by male producers early in her career, said Woo, a cast member of VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop Miami” and host of several programs for BET Networks.
“With these producers, they’re putting you in rooms that you’ve dreamed of. You’re in the studio with artists like … Lil Wayne, you’re seeing T-Pain, you’re seeing Beyonce. You’re just seeing all these people stop by,” she said. “So, you’re like, ‘OK, this person is a little creepy, but I have to be here … I’m in the right place, I just got to maneuver around this person’s creepiness. I got to figure out how to dodge the bullet.’ And you’re dodging somebody who is set out to abuse you.”
Other women navigating the pop music industry have started to speak out about similar experiences, after the #MeToo movement has toppled powerful men in Hollywood, politics, business and more. As in those arenas, women can often find themselves being abused, sometimes sexually, by powerful men who hold the keys to success.
In 2017, Jessie Reyez, the singer who co-wrote the recent Calvin Harris hits “One Kiss” (with Dua Lipa) and “Promises” (with Sam Smith), released a powerful short filmfor her song “Gatekeeper.” In it, she described how she was harassed by a producer: “Oh I’m the gatekeeper/Spread your legs/Open up/You could be famous/If you come up anywhere else, I’ll erase you.”
Last year, she identified her tormentor as music producer Noel “Detail” Fisher, who won a Grammy for co-writing the Beyonce and Jay-Z hit “Drunk in Love.” Reyez said he had tried to belittle and demean her for not having sex with him, and for not having sex to advance her career.