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Celebrities react to Lifetime's 'Surviving R. Kelly' docuseries

“I just watched this with my daughter Willow,” Jada Pinkett Smith said. “It was tough to watch but deeply important. It brought up A LOT for us both.”
Image: R. Kelly
R. Kelly performs in concert at The Bass Concert Hall on March 3, 2017 in Austin, Texas.Gary Miller / Getty Images

The Lifetime docuseries "Surviving R. Kelly," which chronicles decades of the singer’s alleged sexual misconduct, has sparked debate, including among celebrities.

The six-part documentary that debuted Thursday night contains more than 50 interviews. It features testimony from women who accuse Kelly of mental, physical and sexual abuse, as well as interviews with associates and relatives of the singer, including his brothers Carey and Bruce Kelly. Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, and singer John Legend also provided commentary.

Kelly, 51, has consistently denied the allegations against him.

Legend, the only male musician to appear in "Surviving R. Kelly," took to Twitter to respond to the praise he received for agreeing to take part in the docuseries.

“To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn’t feel risky at all,” he said in a tweet, adding that it was an "easy decision.”

In 2008, Kelly, was found not guilty of child pornography charges in connection with a sex tape that appeared to show him having sex with an under-age female and urinating in her mouth. The jury decided they could not be sure of the identity of the girl on the tape, who did not testify. He has not been charged in connection with any other allegation of sexual abuse.

The musician, whose real name is Robert Kelly, was accused of holding six women in a sex cult against their free will in 2017, which he has denied.

NBC News reached out to Kelly’s representatives about the series and they said they had no comment.

Dream Hampton, one of the executive producers of "Surviving R. Kelly," said it was "incredibly difficult" to get people who collaborated with him artistically to come forward.

"We asked Lady Gaga. We asked Erykah Badu. We asked Celine Dion. We asked Jay-Z. We asked Dave Chappelle. [They're] people who have been critical of him," Hampton told the Detroit Free Press.

She added: "That makes John Legend even more of a hero for me."

Legend commended Hampton for her role in the series.

“We should all thank my friend @dreamhampton for her very necessary work to create #SurvivingRKelly," he tweeted. "These survivors deserved to be lifted up and heard. I hope it gets them closer to some kind of justice."

Jada Pinkett Smith urged parents to watch "Surviving R. Kelly" with their children, as she did with her daughter.

“I just watched this with my daughter Willow,” Pinkett Smith wrote in an Instagram post. “It was tough to watch but deeply important. It brought up A LOT for us both.”

She continued: “Mothers and fathers … it’s tough content but it’s important we have conversations with both our daughters and sons around the many issues in this docuseries. It’s well done and makes it clear that we gotta do better … in so many ways.”

Rapper Meek Mill rebuked Kelly on Twitter.

"It don’t take a rocket scientist to see what was going on.... what I’m tryna figure out why did they let it go on soooooo long!" he tweeted.

The docuseries also drew a response from Kerry Washington, who tweeted: "#SurvivingRKelly is the #1 trending topic on @twitter. Amen. Speaking truth to power."

Journalist Jemele Hill responded to critics who questioned the validity of the abuse allegations.

"People need to understand that abusers are charming, persuasive, manipulative and saavy (sic). These are not people in dark alleys, or white vans. You go to church, and school with them. They are people you think are so upstanding #SurvivingRKelly," she wrote on Twitter.

Chance the Rapper, who collaborated with Kelly on the 2015 song "Somewhere in Paradise," also issued an apology Saturday for doing so.

"The truth is, any of us who ever ignored the R Kelly stories, or ever believed he was being setup/attacked by the system (as black men often are) were doing so at the detriment of black women and girls," he said in a statement on Twitter. "I apologize to all of his survivors for working with him and for taking this long to speak out."