Oprah Winfrey has taken pains to clarify that even though she has dropped out as executive producer of an upcoming documentary that includes allegations of sexual misconduct against Russell Simmons, by no means does that mean he’s exonerated.
On Tuesday, Winfrey appeared on “CBS This Morning”, and explained her recent decision to remove her name from Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering’s documentary “On the Record”, which examines sexual assault in the music industry and features women who have accused Simmons.
According to Winfrey, the film wasn’t ready to be premiered at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival due to “inconsistencies,” while the filmmakers insisted on moving ahead with their Sundance plans.
“The only question for me is what is the right thing to do,” Winfrey said on the show, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. “I just care about getting it right.
While she earlier claimed that she had been “pressured” by Simmons to squash the film, she insisted that had nothing to do with her decision and that she continues to support his accusers.
“This is not a victory for Russell. … I did not pull out because of Russell. … I cannot be silenced by Russell Simmons after all I’ve been through,” added Winfrey, who herself has been a victim of sexual assault.
“I told him directly in a phone call that I will not be pressured either into, or out of, backing this film,” Winfrey said. “I am only going to do what I believe to be the right thing.”
In a previous statement, Winfrey announced she would no longer be associated with the film, which is slated to stream on Apple TV+ following its Sundance debut.
“I have decided that I will no longer be executive producer on the untitled Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering documentary and it will not air on Apple TV+,” Winfrey said in her statement. “First and foremost, I want it to be known that I unequivocally believe and support the women.”
She continued: “Their stories deserve to be told and heard. 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.”