Model and actress Cara Delevingne claimed in a recent interview that disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein encouraged her to hide her sexual orientation for the sake of her career.
“One of the first things Harvey Weinstein ever said to me was, ‘You will never make it in this industry as a gay woman — get a beard,” Delevingne, who is currently dating fellow actress Ashley Benson, told the fashion publication Net-a-Porter.
A “beard,” in this context, is an opposite-sex escort taken to social events to conceal an LGBTQ person’s sexuality. Delevingne, who stars in the new Amazon Prime show “Carnival Row,” identifies as sexually fluid and has dated men and women.
“When I’d just started to audition for films, he was naming people I’m friends with — famous people — and asking, ‘Have you slept with this person?’ I just thought: This is insane,” Delevingne told Net-a-Porter.
Delevingne, 27, added that Weinstein’s “inappropriate” comments about her sexuality came before he “tried to touch me.” In October 2017, she alleged that Weinstein made sexual advances toward her and tried to coerce her into kissing another actress in front of him.
“I felt guilty as if I did something wrong,” Delevingne wrote on Instagram at the time. “I was also terrified that this sort of thing had happened to so many women I know but no one had said anything because of fear.”
Weinstein, for his part, has consistently denied any nonconsensual contact with women and has entered not guilty pleas to five charges of rape, sexual assault and “predatory sexual assault" (no charges have stemmed from Delevingne's claims). He will be on trial for two counts of predatory sexual assault in January.
Last week, actress Kristen Stewart revealed that she, too, was instructed to hide her sexuality to "preserve" her film career by an unnamed Hollywood figure.
"I have fully been told, 'If you just like do yourself a favor, and don’t go out holding your girlfriend’s hand in public, you might get a Marvel movie,'" Stewart, 29, told Harper’s Bazaar in an interview published this month.
Experiences like Delevingne's and Stewart's are not unique in the entertainment industry, according to Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD.
“For decades, LGBTQ actors have been told that in order to secure roles in Hollywood, they have to hide their authentic selves and stay closeted,” Ellis told NBC News in an email.