Belfast Telegraph

We should arm women against sexual harassment, says Dawn French

The actress said the industry must do more to help women protect themselves.

Actress and comedian Dawn French has called on the acting industry to teach women how to respond to sexual advances.

She cited the allegations made against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein as she urged greater focus on “arming” young actresses against harassment.

The Vicar Of Dibley star, whose career in showbusiness spans five decades, said that, while she cannot control the behaviour of harassers, she has a duty to help protect the victims.

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Absolutely Fabulous The Movie World Premiere – London

She told Radio Times magazine: “I think that we should be arming our young women … They should have a script as to what to do.

“So, if they’re asked to go to an audition and they are told ‘It won’t be here in one of these public rooms, you’re going to Mr Weinstein’s bedroom’, then they say no.

“There are out-points all along the way. And we, the mothers, we, the friends, we, the agents, we, the casting directors, have to say this.

“At drama school, actresses need to learn what’s OK and what’s not, and have a checklist of what you do and what you don’t do, and leave at that point. Leave, leave, leave.”

Saying that men involved in sexual misconduct also need to change their behaviour, she continued: “I can’t stop Harvey Weinstein, but I can arm young actresses, just like I would arm my own daughter, telling her not to walk in the streets at night on her own, get in a cab.

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Glamour Women of the Year Awards 2016 – Press Room – London

“I am going to arm all the young women around me as much as I can.”

The 60-year-old’s comments come in the lead-up to a special festive programme, sharing favourite clips from her sketch show with Jennifer Saunders.

The show will also feature some new gags, including the pair’s comical take on hit shows and films such as Gogglebox, The Handmaid’s Tale and Wonder Woman.

Marking 20 years since the duo first brought their show to screens, French admitted that she would love to embark on writing a film together.

“I think she’d be up for it,” French said of her comedy partner. “Really, I just want to have time with her. And sometimes working with her is how we get time together.”

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Radio Times.

On the prospect of another full sketch series, however, she said: “It’s where I’m anchored, in a way, but it’s not something we should be doing that often. They’re a young person’s game: they’re exhausting, and we can’t play teenagers any more.”

:: Radio Times is out now.

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