Thandie Newton discusses sexual exploitation in the film industry

Bafta-winning actress remembers an incident from her past when she was humiliated during a "casting couch" audition

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Thandie Newton discusses sexual exploitation in the film industry
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Tom Cole

Award-winning actress Thandie Newton, who took part in demonstrations in London on Thursday to protest violence against women, has explained that she’s keenly aware of the ways in which women can be exploited and humiliated because of “the kinds of things I was expected to do in auditions.”

The Pursuit of Happyness star recently described an incident in her teens when she was “objectified to an extreme” as part of a “casting couch” interview.

“There was one horrific incident where I went back for a second audition," she told CNN. “It was a screen test and there were two people there: the director, who I’d seen previously; and the casting director, who was a woman.

“The director asked me to sit with my legs apart; the camera was positioned where it could see up my skirt."

Newton remembered that the director ordered her to put her leg over the arm of the chair, and “before I started my dialogue, think about the character I was supposed to be having the dialogue with and how it felt to be made love to by this person."

The 40-year-old went on to describe how the incident came back to haunt her years after it took place.

“Three years later I was at the Cannes Film Festival and my husband and I bumped into this rather drunk British producer…and it turned out that the director used to show that video late at night to ‘interested parties’ at his house. A video of me touching myself with a camera up my skirt.”

Since that horrifying early experience, Newton has gone on to star in such films as 2012, RocknRolla and Mission: Impossible II.

Newton was among the crowds of people campaigning outside Parliament on Thursday in support of the One Billion Rising campaign, which aims to raise awareness of abuse and violence against women.

Watch a video of Newton's CNN interview below:

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