Andrea Evans is well known in daytime for her work on One Life to Live, Passions, The Bold and the Beautiful and The Bay. Now as a producer, she joins OutTakes to discuss her latest project Rocking the Couch.
We are all aware of the #MeToo movement in the news brought on by the scandals of Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. But sexual harassment and abuse have actually occurred in Hollywood ever since its beginnings. This documentary explores the history of the “casting couch” and asks why it has taken so long for Hollywood to learn from the past. Produced by Andrea, Minh Collins and Jerry Sommer, this documentary stars Tonja Walker, Alana Crow, Carrie Mitchum, Lauren Anastasi-Peter, Sadie Katz, Kim Johnston Ulrich, Tiffani Fest, Pritesh Shah and Ikon Barenbolm. Rocking the Couch by Avail Films is available now on demand through Amazon Prime.
See the official trailer here!
OT: Tell us about ROCKING THE COUCH
Evans: This movie is very timely because of the #MeToo movement; it covers sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood, starting with why we have this whole concept of the term the “casting couch”.
OT: What drew you to this project?
Evans: One of my best friends, Minh Collins, is also one of the executive producers of Rocking the Couch along with Jerry Sommer. I had worked for Minh when he directed me in a film called Hit List (2011). We’ve been really good friends ever since. We were sitting and having coffee right when the whole Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby cases were right in the heat of things. We said to each other that someone is going to make a great documentary about this. So we said ‘Let’s do this!’ I’ve been in this business since I was a kid. I have certainly seen plenty of sexual harassment in Hollywood; and I have stories. You notice that I am in the cast, but my stories paled so much in comparison to the people we used who were so heart-wrenching that I decided to cut myself out of the film. I think you’ll have a hard time finding a woman in the entertainment industry, and probably every other industry, who has not seen or experienced sexual harassment in some way.
OT: How were you able to get actresses in the film to agree to come on board and share their stories?
Evans: They wanted to talk. There were plenty who we approached that did not for their own reasons. But the women who came on board really wanted to share their stories. The time has come. Maybe people are actually going to listen to them. Finally.
OT: With all of the history of sexual harassment and abuse talked about in the documentary – including stories about classic film stars such as Fatty Arbuckle and Natalie Wood (pictured above) as well as Hollywood talent agent Wallace Kaye — why has it taken so long for this behavior to gain public attention?
Evans: As you mention, the trial of Wallace Kaye is absolutely a cornerstone in our documentary. This was a big case in the 1990s. The reason we are bringing it to light is because people don’t know what we’re talking about. For some reason, this very big case that got national press to begin with was somehow brushed under the rug. Nobody heard about it. I didn’t even know about it. When I started doing this documentary, my husband had told me about the case. Then we started researching about it. Oh, my goodness! Why didn’t anybody listen?
OT: What was the most challenging thing about producing Rocking the Couch?
Evans: Probably the most challenging thing was just hearing the stories. A lot of these women I know, like Tonja Walker and Carrie Mitchum (pictured below). I had known those two for thirty plus years. But I didn’t know their stories. Tonja’s in particular. Even though we don’t mention the person, I know who she’s talking about. I did not know this about him. And it was a very difficult day. It was hard to hear it.
OT: Most of the sexual harassment events were in private auditions or private meetings. Would it be practical for a standard to be put in place with SAG/AFTRA where more than one casting person is present at an audition?
Evans: When you go to a doctor’s office, for example, and you are examined by a male doctor, there has to be a nurse or somebody present. One of the things we bring up many times is the SAG/AFTRA actors union. They have put many more things into place since all of this has come to light. But what took so long? As performers, we don’t have a Human Relations Department. We are independent contractors and go from job to job. There’s nobody we can go to except our union. If our union does not protect us, then we are all alone. So I agree that it would be great to put something like that practice into place.
OT: How can actors speak out without fear of being blackballed?
Evans: For those who have come forward, it’s a different time now. For the first time probably in history. And sexual harassment exists outside of the entertainment industry. As we all know from what we’ve heard on the news, when victims come forward in rape cases are usually attacked as if they are responsible. When they in reality are the victims and not responsible for what happens to them. Society has not really given them their due respect. They need to be heard. For the first time, there has been a societal shift; and they are being heard.
OT: What advice would you give an actor or actress who finds themselves in an uncomfortable casting situation?
Evans: My main advice is not to get yourself into that situation. Don’t be meeting producers who say maybe they’ll hire you for a drink. Don’t meet them in a hotel room or after hours. You have to protect yourself. The best thing to do is to prevent it from the start. In our documentary, our defense attorney gives advice on what to do should something happen. We really wanted to include that because we want to make “Rocking the Couch” a cautionary tale as well. There is no book out there telling actresses who come to Hollywood how to succeed in the business. There’s no clear path. Watch the documentary. You’ll get some good advice in there.
OT: What about those who are okay with trading sexual favors for acting work? How do you get them on board with changing the system?
Evans: We did bring this up in the movie because we wanted to present all the sides and explain why it is so prevalent in the entertainment industry. We have all turned a blind eye to it for too long. Yes, there are people who are happy to go along with that; and that is not rape. That is not sexual abuse. If you’re going along with it, that’s a whole other matter. These people aren’t going to come forward. There are people in the entertainment industry whose careers have been made because of this; and they aren’t going to be telling you that this is why. So you aren’t going to be hearing from them.
OT: How worried are you that Rocking the Couch might get industry backlash?
Evans: If it does, it does. But I don’t think it will. We told the truth. When you risk backlash, it is because you are not telling the truth. And we aren’t naming any names. That wasn’t our job. Our job is just to explain what the situation is, tell the history and hopefully leave our mark by trying to create a change. We’re trying to do the right thing.
OT: What do you want people to take away from this movie?
Evans: I’d like a lot of young women in Hollywood to protect themselves better. For them not to put themselves in this situation. For them to understand how these situations exist. When we have the Wallace Kayes, the Bill Cosbys, the Harvey Weinsteins and the Kevin Spaceys, hopefully people are going to learn and pay attention.
OT: Where can we see Rocking the Couch?
Evans: You can see it on Amazon Prime. If you’re not a member of Amazon Prime, you can still rent or buy it through Amazon. Please watch it and give us a review. Let us know what you think!
Rocking the Couch IMDB page: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7861698/
Rocking the Couch on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RockingTheCouch/
Rocking the Couch on Amazon Prime: https://www.amazon.com/Rocking-Couch-Andrea-Evans/dp/B07NBWZ8NW