She said she let him know that she wouldn't be pressured.
After distancing herself from the forthcoming #MeToo documentary now titled On The Record, Oprah Winfrey is speaking freely about her association with the project. When it was announced that the media mogul would act as executive producer of a film that highlighted women who have accused Russell Simmons of vicious sexual assaults, Oprah received backlash. She was accused of taking aim at famous black men in the industry who have faced similar accusations while ignoring others including Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein.
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Oprah shared that she and the On The Record filmmakers weren't seeing eye-to-eye on the creative vision for the project. Later, Oprah's best friend Gayle King would come forward to assert that Oprah wasn't "muzzled" into backing away from the documentary. However, in an interview with The New York Times, Oprah revealed that Simmons did "reach out multiple times and attempted to pressure me."
"I told him directly in a phone call that I will not be pressured either into, or out of, backing this film," she said. "I am only going to do what I believe to be the right thing." Award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay added, “She’s got Simmons on one side pressuring her, and then she’s got a film on the other side that she doesn’t agree with. So if she walks away from the film, she seems like she’s caving to Simmons, and if she stays with the film, then she’s putting her name on something that she feels doesn’t quite hit the mark.”
Ultimately, Oprah didn't feel as if the film was ready for its premiere at The Sundance Film Festival at the end of the month. It's reported she wanted to highlight other #MeToo survivors, but the filmmakers had other plans.