Mira Sorvino, Lili Bernard Lead Tribute to R. Kelly Survivors: ‘These Women Are Brave, They are Warriors’

Power Women Summit 2019: Six women who were victimized by the R&B singer spoke about how life changed after breaking their silence

mira sorvino lili bernard r kelly survivors power women summit
Photograph by Court McAllister for TheWrap

Almost a year after the Lifetime documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” brought public attention back to the R&B singer’s predatory behavior, six of the women who came forward with their accusations remain proud of their decision to speak out.

Lisa VanAllen, Lizzette Martinez, Kitti Jones, Jerhonda Pace, Faith Rodgers and Asante McGee spoke about their whirlwind year and Kelly’s arrest at WrapWomen’s 2019 Power Women Summit, held at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica on Oct. 25. The six received a special tribute from actress and Harvey Weinstein accuser Mira Sorvino and artist and Bill Cosby survivor Lili Bernard.

“We didn’t ask to endure what made us survivors, but we had a choice of what to do with that,” said Sorvino, who became one of the most prominent figures of the #MeToo movement in 2017 after going public with a disturbing history of harassment and Hollywood blackballing she said she experienced at the hands of Weinstein.

Bernard, an artist and actress who spoke out against Bill Cosby, praised the women on stage for their bravery: “I saw firsthand that the legal system is stacked against us,” she said. “These women going against the status quo of our culture are brave, they are warriors.”

For R. Kelly accusers, the repercussions from the Lifetime documentary has been intense. “Everybody has an opinion on what a victim should look like, what a victim should do, what a victim should dress like, if a victim should wear makeup,” said Faith Rodgers, who appeared in the documentary and is a participant in the ongoing court cases against Kelly. “When the documentary first came out I spent a lot of time trying to prove or have people co-sign my story and now I’m past that point,” she said.

Kelly has been held in a Chicago jail since July on federal sex crimes charges, where he will remain until a 2020 trial. He also faces charges in New York on racketeering, kidnapping, forced labor and sexual exploitation of a child. Kelly pleaded not guilty to the federal charges in August.Allegations of sexual misconduct by the singer go back nearly 30 years.

The Power Women Summit brings together 1,500 influential women from the entertainment, media and technology industries, making it the largest gathering of its kind. With the theme of “Toward 50/50,” the event highlights female leaders in the entertainment industry, encourages discussion on topics of impact and creates a lasting community of powerful women. The Summit will provide two days of education, mentorship, workshops and networking.