Laverne Cox has withdrawn her support of an upcoming documentary citing a need to protect her mental health.
The Emmy-nominated actress and transgender rights advocate had originally signed on to co-executive produce Sarah Jones's upcoming documentary Sell/Buy/Date, which is based on her one-woman show that examined different parts of the sex work industry. Cox, 48, was set to produce alongside Jones and Meryl Streep and Rashida Jones.
According to a release published by The Hollywood Reporter, the film "asks the question, 'Is sex work exploitative or empowering?' The sex industry is hiding everywhere in plain sight during the pandemic, and impacting Black and brown women in particular. That said, many people support sex work, and some even argue those in the commercial sex space are essential workers."
But after The Hollywood Reporter made the announcement, several members of the sex work industry criticized the project as it didn't originate from people within it.
In particular, one person on Twitter directly called out Cox for supporting a movie they believed went against what Cox has advocated for.
"Just what the world needs. Another movie where non [sex workers] debate whether sex work is exploitative or empowering. Laverne Cox this project is everything you're supposedly against. Stop trying to tell [sex work] stories by ignoring them and doxxing them," wrote user mstresscarmilla.
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Cox responded directly to that tweet explaining why she decided to cut ties with the movie, citing protecting her own mental health against the backlash. She also posted the statement on her own Twitter account.
"When I agreed to come on as an executive producer of Sell/Buy/Date I did so because I was so deeply moved by Sarah Jones' brilliant play and her unbelievable, undeniable talent as an artist, as an actor. I signed on to support her incredible talent," she posted on Wednesday. "I have so much love for her as a human being. But I am not in an emotional place to deal with the outrage by some around my participation in this project. So I have decided to pull out. To be clear, I am no longer involved in any capacity in ['Sell/Buy/Date.'] I have to take care of my mental, physical and emotional health."
Director Sarah Jones later tweeted her support and thanks to Cox, asking people to give her space.
"I'm so grateful to you Laverne for coming on the journey with me thus far, and I'm looking forward to continuing my work on the film, and only ask that everyone give Laverne her space while keeping an open mind about the project before judging it," Jones wrote.
She also addressed the backlash on her account.
"As a Black feminist artist, I have always centered the stories of traditionally marginalized people, especially women and femmes struggling for liberation and self-determination. My sisters in the sex industry are no exception. I am committed to deep listening to folks with lived experience, not only in my interviews but also in those we hire behind the scenes," she wrote.
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