In 2017, actor Aurora Perrineau accused Girls writer and executive producer Murray Miller of sexually assaulting her when she was underage, an allegation Girls creators Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner then-famously negated. Dunham’s since recanted her defense of Miller and Perrineau’s been cast in Ava DuVernay’s Central Park Five series When They See Us, but in a new interview with Glamour, Perrineau hinted that Dunham and Konner nearly cost her her career.
Perrineau alleged Miller raped her at the Standard Hotel when she was only 17, and she told Glamour she went through an extremely difficult time after the attack (“There was a lot of self-harm,” she said). Her story ended up in public view not because she sought media attention, but because she filed a police report:
With the help of a therapist, she started to think about what closure would mean for her. “It was never a thing like, ‘I’m going to tell my story,’” she says. “I just wanted justice.”
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office declined to bring charges; shortly thereafter, The Wrap published Perrineau’s police report. Dunham and Konner released a statement defending Miller, claiming, “[O]ur insider knowledge of Murray’s situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3% of assault cases that are misreported every year.” Dunham, who apologized to Perrineau in person, has since revealed she did not actually have any “insider knowledge” and called the whole incident “a terrible mistake.”
Perrineau told Glamour she was shocked by Dunham and Konner’s initial defense of Miller. “Woman to woman, I just thought that support would be there,” she said. And since Perrineau only had a few credits to her name at the time of Dunham and Konner’s statement, the incident came close to overshadowing her career:
In the immediate aftermath Perrineau tried not to think about how Dunham’s and Konner’s actions would affect her career, but other people did.
“I remember thinking, She could just go away,” DuVernay says of Perrineau. The director knows how the media machine operates. There’s a flash of attention, and then the details fade. What’s left is the vague sense that Perrineau had been implicated in some drama, branded as someone who had done bad. So DuVernay reached out to Aisha Coley, the casting director on When They See Us, who has previously collaborated with DuVernay on Queen Sugar and A Wrinkle in Time, and asked Coley to call Perrineau in. Her audition “was fantastic,” DuVernay says. Her work on set was the same. “She has real depth, and I have high hopes for her.”
Perrineau also spoke to the difficulties of speaking out about sexual assault as a woman of color:
It’s hard enough to ever come [forward], but then to be a woman of color and know that there’s a very good chance that no one is going to believe you? I think it opened my eyes to that,” she explains. “I’m grateful for that part of it.”