Out in the Open

Going public with Weinstein allegations was the 'right thing to do,' Erika Rosenbaum says one year later

The Montreal actress describes how life on set has changed after going public with her allegations of harassment by Harvey Weinstein, and in the wake of the wider #MeToo movement.

Montreal actress describes how life on set has changed in the wake of #MeToo movement

Montreal actress Erika Rosenbaum came forward with allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein in October 2017. (Susan Mckenzie/CBC)

Erika Rosenbaum was worried she'd be branded a "troublemaker."

In an October 2017 interview with Piya Chattopadhyay on The Current, ​the Montreal actress had described aggressive behaviour by now-disgraced Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein

Just days earlier, the New Yorker and New York Times published the first allegations of sexual harassment and assault by Weinstein. The #MeToo hashtag and social media movement hadn't gone mainstream yet.

"I really believe that it was the right thing to do, as difficult as it has been," she told Chattopadhyay in an interview this week on Out in the Open as she looked back on speaking out a year ago.

On Thursday, prosecutors in New York dropped part of their sexual assault case against Weinstein after evidence emerged that cast doubt on one accuser's story, but insisted the rest of the case, involving two other accusers, remains strong. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is free on bail.

The first job Rosenbaum booked after coming forward was for a film titled The Hummingbird Project, alongside Salma Hayek, Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgard.

"I was hyper-aware of my own presence on set," she said. "I think it was a time when people were quite mindful and careful, and perhaps nervous, about their own behaviour, because it was such a topic of conversation in the media."

Actors Alexander Skarsgard, Jesse Eisenberg, Salma Hayek and director Kim Nguyen attend the "The Hummingbird Project" premiere during the Toronto International Film Festival in September. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Despite her reservations, Rosenbaum found that the cast and crew were very supportive.

"It's incredible when you make yourself vulnerable to others how much support and reciprocity is offered in return," she said.

The Hummingbird Project premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Even absent, Weinstein had been a looming presence.

"I got to go to this film festival knowing I wouldn't run into this person who I had sort of lived in fear of for so long," she said.

A 'sisterhood of survivors'

Rosenbaum has been in touch with other women who've accused Weinstein of misconduct. She said they don't talk much about the specifics of their stories, primarily to avoid reliving the trauma of their experiences.

She and her "sisterhood of survivors" have been sharing resources and advice as each seeks to move forward.

Rosenbaum acknowledges that moving forward has its challenges. Online and in the public eye, she knows her image might always be associated with Weinstein.

"I really had no interest in this being any part of my legacy," she said. But she's glad something positive could come out of her ordeal.

I still want to be liked, and I still respect authority figures, and I get how nice girls and women and others get backed into a corner.- Montreal actress Erika Rosenbaum

Since going public, she's been living more honestly with her friends and family. Before then, she had kept her story about Weinstein a secret even from those closest to her.

Rosenbaum and her partner have three young children, with a fourth on the way. She's had to find appropriate ways to speak with her kids about what happened to her.

"I told them I had been bullied as a young woman, and that I was embarrassed," she said.

After seeing other women come forward, "I felt brave enough to sort of tell on the bully, and that I didn't think it was right to have to keep a secret for a bully."​​

Rosenbaum's two oldest children have shown an interest in acting. Her six-year-old daughter also booked a small role in The Hummingbird Project. Rosenbaum enjoyed the chance to bring her daughter to work, but she worries about what a future in acting might look like for her.

"I'm still raising a little girl who wants to be liked, who is a good listener and is respectful of authority, and that was me as a young person," she said. "I mean, that's still me. I still want to be liked, and I still respect authority figures, and I get how nice girls and women and others get backed into a corner."

But she's heartened by the work she and others have been able to do in the past year.

"I think this is changing things for my children."

This story appears on the Out in the Open episode "#MeToo and You."