Sometimes telling your story is the hardest thing you can do. After 19 years of silence, Zelda Perkins, a former assistant to media mogul Harvey Weinstein, is breaking the terms of her Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) and speaking up about her troubling time spent alongside the accused mogul.
Perkins, who worked alongside Weinstein in the ’90s, alleges that, among other lewd acts, Weinstein attempted to rape one of her former colleagues at the Venice Film Festival 19 years ago. The accusation follows similar tales from over 50 women in the industry, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Beckinsale, Lupita Nyong’o and Salma Hayek, who have all spoken out against the American film producer.
Perkins’ accounts include scenes of Weinstein displaying his nude body in front of her in his hotel room–what he allegedly referred to as “his office”–and him forcing her to sit next to the tub while he bathed. But it wasn’t until a colleague told her that she had been raped by their boss during the 1998 Venice Film Festival that Perkins decided to take action.
After personally confronting him but being unconvinced by his denials, she quit her post, along with her colleague, and sought legal help. And as is too often the case when the “little guy” goes after power in the courts, Perkins’ case was quickly quashed by Weinstein’s heavily funded legal team. Lawyers told her she would be ‘destroyed’ by Weinstein’s team, so she ended up signing a non-disclosure agreement in 1998, receiving £125,000 from Miramax for her silence, but not being allowed to keep a copy of the agreement.
Despite being the victim, Perkins’ professional reputation had been damaged and she was forced to find work elsewhere; she eventually ended up training horses in Central America.
But following the recent public outcry from so many other victims, she decided the time had come to forsake the legal agreement and tell her story, which she did on the BBC television program, Newsnight. With the world attentively watching these scandals unfold–Weinstein, right at the centre–the pressure the victims are facing must be enormous, especially with the disgraced movie exec denying all the accusations.
“If I can make one good thing happen out of something as horrific as all the damage that Harvey has caused, that makes this year a fantastic year for me,” said Perkins.