Former Vampire Diaries Writer Details On-Set Harassment by Show’s Director
In the wake of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, there have been stories that have shocked us and accounts that have opened our eyes to the prevalence of harassment going on behind-the-scenes of our favorite shows and movie franchises. The latest is from a former Vampire Diaries writer who claims she experienced abuse on the set of the hit series by a director.
In an exclusive column for The Hollywood Reporter, Elisabeth R. Finch recalled a particularly harrowing incident while filming an episode of the show. The harassment occurred after Elizabeth noticed that an actor was missing on set and decided she should let the director know. But when she asked him what they should do, his reaction is not what she expected. “The director's face turns crimson with rage, his eyes dart around the room, quickly assessing how he can use the private space I've put us in to his advantage,” she wrote in the column.
“I immediately assume I've made some career-ending mistake, and I try to buy it back by apologizing. But he stares me down, spit forming in the corners of his mouth as he screams: ‘If I wanted to talk to a nagging c**t, I'd go home to my wife,'” Elizabeth recounts.
She said she went numb after his comments and he proceeded to pinch her face – hard. Though she doesn't name the director, she did say that he would often make offensive jokes about actresses' bodies, as well as give her unwanted hugs and massages. Elizabeth also revealed that he called her the c-word on more than one occasion and once told her she’d be a better writer with “more life experience.”
Just like so many other women who have experienced this kind of trauma, Elizabeth opted not to tell anyone because she was worried that she might lose her job if she spoke out about the harassment.
“I laugh and allow it because I don't want the reputation of being ‘that girl,’” she wrote. “Because surely other people have it much worse so I should be able to handle this… I internalized the misguided notion that this is ‘the price you pay’ — because of a million reasons that all boil down to: I worked my ass off to get this job. I don't want to lose it. So I keep my mouth shut.”
But, on the final day of shooting, she ran into showrunner Julie Plec and admitted that the director was not nice. “‘We got it done. I think we got what we needed.' I try to soften it, make it seem like I handled it all. I assume she'll be proud of me,” she wrote.
To Elizabeth's surprise, Julie was upset with her for not speaking up about the abuse earlier.
— Elisabeth R. Finch (@erfinchie) March 21, 2018
“She tells me I was wrong. Wrong to assume that my job is to just suck it up and pretend it's fine. Wrong not to tell her on day one. In that moment, I understand she's not yelling at me. She is not shaming me. She is clear. And unwavering. And wants to be sure I hear every damn word when she says: ‘It is not your job to take abuse or accept unacceptable behavior because you're young and a woman. That is not your job.' There is no judgment or blame in her voice, only strength and certainty. And it's because of that strength and certainty I hear her, I believe her,” Elizabeth wrote.
Elizabeth went on to say the director never worked on TVD again. Shoutout to Julie for being such a badass showrunner and human being. We wish more people in Hollywood were like her.