Vincent Cirrincione, a talent manager who’s worked with Taraji P. Henson and Halle Berry, has been accused of sexual misconduct by nine women, who claim he took advantage of his position as a Hollywood gatekeeper to prey on women of color looking for help with their careers.
The Washington Post reports that the women—eight of them black and one Asian—accusing Cirrincione of sexual misconduct and unwanted sexual advances say that the unwanted sexual advances took place over two decades, with the earliest incident occurring in 1993 and the latest in 2011.
The behavior described by the women is disheartening. From the Washington Post:
Three of the women say he pushed for sex as a condition for representing them, and that he did not take them on when they refused. A fourth said he offered to help advance her career if she agreed to have sex with him monthly. A fifth actress said he masturbated in front of her in his office during the years he managed her.
While it’s easy to draw comparisons to Harvey Weinstein’s network of accusers and the decades of pain he wrought across the entertainment industry, the women who accused Cirrincione were clear that his behavior was different from Weinstein’s. What emerges from the allegations is a pattern of sexual harassment that saw Cirrincone preying on women of color by using the names of Berry and Henson as “bait” to entice them to work with him.
One of the actresses said that during her audition for Cirrincione in the early 2000s, he told her she reminded him of Berry when Berry was starting out.
“Of course that was like your dream to have Halle Berry’s manager say, ‘Oh, my God, you remind me of Halle,’” said the woman, who is now a fashion and lifestyle blogger.
She said Cirrincione called her after the audition to tell her she wasn’t quite ready for his agency but that he would help her get new headshots and appear with her at industry events to introduce her to the right people — on the condition that she sleep with him once a month.
“He said it so matter-of-factly, like we were just going to get coffee,” she said.
Another actress, a biracial woman who was not identified by name, wound up working with Cirrincione because other managers reportedly told her that “they already had a ‘mixed girl’ or that they did not know how to pitch her.” Thanks to Hollywood’s blatant and galling racism, the actress ended up with Cirrincione. During a gathering at his house, the actress opened up to the manager about her childhood, detailing sexual and physical abuse, the suicide of her mother, her depression, and abusive relationships she’d had. This is how Cirrincione responded:
She said he told her he could make her a star like Berry, Henson and Annie Ilonzeh, an actress in the short-lived television remake of “Charlie’s Angels.” Then she said he tried to kiss her and pulled her breasts out of her shirt. She claimed he unzipped his pants, took out his penis and asked her to spit on it.
When she recoiled, she said he told her he did not know what the big deal was, adding that all his actresses participate, and pushed her head down toward his lap.
“In my mind, I was like, just get the representation. Just get past this,” she said. So she pretended she was playing a role. She said she spit on his penis while he masturbated. Afterward, she said he told her not to feel bad and bragged about his sexual relationships with the women he represents.
In the entertainment industry, which is still a very hard place to work if you’re a woman who’s not white, Cirrincione positioned himself as a progressive manager who staked his career on helping women of color achieve their dreams. Yet his reputation for unwanted sexual advances and seeking out relationships with burgeoning stars was another one of Hollywood’s seemingly-many “open secrets.”
Halle Berry is no longer represented by Cirrincione; they parted ways 3 years ago after she overheard a woman on the radio detailing her “worst casting couch experience” with Cirrincione. Henson told the Post that Cirrincione was more of a “father figure” to her, helping her with her rent at times and being “especially supportive” of black women. “He didn’t sugarcoat how hard it is here for us,” she said. “We just have to keep fighting, and one day the doors will open.”
In a statement addressing the allegations, Cirrincione acknowledged the fact that he pursued sexual relationships with clients, but staunchly denied the accusations of seeking sexual favors in exchange for helping actresses with their careers. “I can say without a doubt that I have never used favors, sexual or otherwise, as a reason for managing anyone. I want to make it clear that not one of those relationships were anything but consensual,” he said. “I apologize to these women, my past and present partner, my clients and employees for the pain this is bringing them. I was under the impression I was living my life as a supportive man to women. It is with a heavy heart that I see now I was wrong.”
Read the entire report at the Washington Post here.