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Jennifer Lopez Gets Real About a Director Requesting to See Her Topless Off Set

Jennifer Lopez joined Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Renée Zellweger, Lupita Nyong’o, and Awkwafina for the Oscar Actress Roundtable and opened up about everything from how terrifying it was to perform the opening pole dance scene in Hustlers to the off-set harassment she once experienced from a male director.

One of the questions the actresses were asked was whether or not they feel the culture around nudity and sex scenes in films has changed the way it’s discussed now and how that has impacted the choices that actresses make. Lopez responded mentioning the harassment she experienced when a director had the nerve to ask her to take her top off for him off-set.

A director at a fitting asked me to take my top off,” she said. “Because I was supposed to do nudity in the movie.” Johansson jumps in asking, “Oh, they wanted to see your breasts?” Lopez responds saying, “He wanted to see my boobs. And I was like, ‘We’re not on set.’

Johansson responded in disgust saying, “That is crazy.” J.Lo then goes in on how she reacted to the whole thing and dodged Johansson’s question asking who the director was. She made sure not to out the director or even mention the film she was working on at the time of the incident.

Well, he was crazy. And… And I said no, I stood up for myself. But it was so funny because I remember being so panicked in the moment. And by the way, there was a costume designer in the room with me. So there was another woman in the room and he says this and I said no. Luckily, a little bit of the Bronx came out, and I was like, ‘I don’t have to show you my — No. On the set, you see them.’”

As infuriating as this request was, Lopez goes on to mention how important it was for her to set that boundary with the director but how she’s aware of the fact that these incidents still happen now.

“That’s the thing, because if you give in, in that moment, all of a sudden that person is off running, thinking they can do whatever they want. And because I put up a little boundary right there and said no, he laid off and then later apologized. But the minute he walked out of the room the costume designer was like, ‘I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry that just happened,’” she added. “I feel like that could still happen. I don’t think we’re far away from that all. I was talking to some of our crew from the last film that I did, about inappropriate behavior in general, and they were talking about a particular DP that was doing all kinds of crazy stuff, shooting up skirts, and our first AD had to go over to the actress and say, ‘Hey just so you know, maybe you want to check and see, because I think the camera angle is going to maybe not be something that you’re comfortable with.’ She had no idea.”

Some of the other actresses at the round table jumped in to discuss how even though these inappropriate incidents probably still happen today — in the movie business especially — folks are more likely to speak up now because of the public conversations surrounding the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement.

“The difference now, though, is that because of the conversations that are happening in public, it’s easier to tell when something is inappropriate,” Nyong’o says. “Because in that moment, if the costume designer had said something, it could’ve changed. If she had supported you in some way, had spoken up, it would have changed the dynamic. So now we are programming the younger generation to know what’s OK and what’s not. To know that it’s not OK to be in a costume fitting and for a man to ask that of you. Even though those things might happen, our defense would be sharper in those moments.”

I can’t help but appreciate J.Lo for coming forth with this story in such a public way. While a part of me almost wishes she outed the director, another part of me is looking at the bigger picture here and the fact that women in Hollywood now feel comfortable coming forward with these stories and letting other women — even outside Hollywood — understand that they don’t have to put away with any kind of sexual harassment is important. It also speaks to the fact that we are making progress in this area. Though more can be made. Male Hollywood directors know that they are every move is being watched now and threatening to blacklist an actress isn’t going to keep her silent anymore.