On October 3, two women filed a lawsuit against James Franco and the Studio 4 acting school which he helped to open (and which shuttered its doors in 2017). In the lawsuit, the women allege that the actor exploited them both sexually and on a financial level.
Studio 4 was designed as a school to help aspiring actors learn skills that could translate into legitimate, paying job opportunities. According to “Salon,” the lawsuit itself explains that the school was supposed to “provide direct opportunities to work with Franco and his production company, Rabbit Bandini.” However, the two women at the heart of the lawsuit say that this never happened.
Instead, the women feel that Studio 4 was instead a set up to allow James Franco to meet a “pipeline” of women in order to not only place them in positions that would compromise them sexually, but also exploited them on a professional level as well. Essentially they feel that Studio 4 was all a ruse and not a legitimate school for acting.
According to the “New York Times,” the women allege in their lawsuit that Franco and the people he worked alongside, “engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students by sexualizing their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects.” This is not the only behavior they discuss in the lawsuit, also alleging that Studio 4 was simply a money making scheme, as it forced students to pay tuition that never materialized into a legitimate work opportunity. They also say that their sexual exploitation included numerous videos that the school stockpiled for personal use.
The two women behind the lawsuit have made it clear that they feel as if James Franco and his Studio 4 acting school simply reduced their roles as women into sexual objects who could only get jobs by being exploited in this manner. While only two women have been named as part of this lawsuit against the actor and his school, they are not the only ones who have spoken out about the situation. Two other women stepped forward to share their own experiences with Franco and his school, pointing to an incident in which the actor was angry over women refusing to remove their tops for a scene.
This is not the first time that James Franco has had to address issues surrounding Studio 4. In fact, his lawyer has previously issued a statement that disputed all of the allegations being levied against Franco. During a visit to Stephen Colbert’s late night talk show, the actor even said that he is always willing to take responsibility for his actions when he has done something wrong.
According to James Franco, when he does things wrong, he knows he has to fix it, because it is all part of him being able to maintain his own “well-being.” However, he made it clear at the time that all of the things that were circulating about him were false and that the story was not being told correctly. All of that being said, it was not long after that Studio 4 ended up shutting down, with Franco moving on to different work projects.
While James Franco and his lawyer have seemingly not addressed the lawsuit against the actor yet, the lawyers for the women say that they are doing this in order to give a voice to other women in a similar situation. Their hope is that they are able to “empower” others so that they do not find themselves dealing with the same treatment from people in power.
Written by Kimberley Spinney
Salon – James Franco sued for sexually exploiting women at his acting school
The New York Times – 2 Women Say James Franco’s Acting School Sexually Exploited Them
Image Credit – Tara Giancaspro’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License